Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Patel Conservatory helps students tap into the arts in Jackson Heights

TAMPA

“And a one, and a two, and a three … "

It's a recent Wednesday afternoon at the Jackson Heights NFL Youth Education Town in East Tampa and a dozen kids are moving to the rhythm of Justin Timberlake's Release, while instructor Henry DeMario counts their steps — "and a seven, and an eight."

"You got it!" he says, watching the students sway in synch.

It's hip-hop time.

DeMario's class is part of a multimedia education partnership between the NFL-YET center and the Patel Conservatory at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

The program, which started last summer, offers free instruction in the arts to almost 200 students from lower income communities at the county's two NFL-YET centers. The classes include recording arts and hip-hop dance at the Jackson Heights location and video arts at the Mort Park location in Lutz.

"The arts can really be transforming," said Leslie Shepard, director of academic affairs at Patel. "The program is specifically targeted to underserved communities that will usually never have an exposure to the arts."

The two NFL-YET centers are legacies of Super Bowl XXXV, which Tampa hosted in 2001. The NFL donates $1 million to the host cities, and the cities match that to create recreation centers in underprivileged areas, explained Tina James, Patel's education program manager who also worked previously with NFL-YET.

Today, there are 15 YET centers throughout the country. They become places "to release aggression." James said.

Besides the fine arts classes sponsored through Patel, the centers offer field trips to the Buccaneers training camp and football games, projects in leadership, volunteer initiatives and an afterschool tutorial program.

After Tampa hosted Super Bowl XLIII this year, the NFL's $1 million donation was used to expand programs and infrastructures at the area's two centers. The Jackson Heights location implemented a new fitness room and a multipurpose room, while the Mort Park facility got a new football field.

The Jackson Heights facility serves about 95 kids, mostly from Oak Park Elementary School and Franklin Middle Magnet School, where Sarah Sumes attends.

"It's fun," said Sarah, 13.

The Mort Park facility serves about 85 students mostly from Pizzo Elementary, Buchanan Middle School and King High School.

Transportation is offered to students who have no means to get around.

Besides the NFL donations, the city and county pay $175,000 annually for programs and activities at both centers.

The Patel Conservatory sponsored the education partnership program at the centers by providing $100,000 worth of services, such as professional instructors, during the 2008-09 year.

On Mondays, kids learn how to compose music during a recording arts class. Wednesdays are dedicated to power moves and other skills in the hip-hop dance class, while film and documentaries are produced on Fridays during the video arts class at Mort Park. On Saturdays, a bus takes kids from both centers to the Patel Conservatory downtown for creative drama, theater and dance.

Stephanie Owens-Royster, executive director of NFL-YET Tampa Bay, said that the program is beneficial because it teaches discipline.

Moreover, she said, "it is important for kids to have fun."

Teachers also tend to enjoy the experience.

"I love it," said DeMario, 28. "I want to expose kids to different styles of dance and keep them occupied."

The Patel's programs will halt at both centers at the end of the school year but resume with the beginning of the 2009-10 year. Youth from both centers may participate in a full-time summer program at the Patel Conservatory, though the schedule has not been determined yet.

Alessandra Da Pra can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3321.

Interested?

The Patel Conservatory has partnered with NFL Youth Education Town centers, offering free instruction in the arts. Anyone interested in participating in the current program or the summer activities should contact program manager Lee Owens at [email protected] or call the centers:

NFL-YET Jackson Heights: 3310 E Lake Ave., Tampa; (813) 242-5346

NFL-YET Mort Park: 1815 E 148th Ave., Lutz; (813) 975-2101

Patel Conservatory helps students tap into the arts in Jackson Heights 04/23/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 23, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cubs down Dodgers 3-2; force NLCS Game 5 Thursday

    Ml

    CHICAGO — Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, former Ray Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

  2. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
[LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Times
 file photo]

  3. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  4. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended

    Nation

    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  5. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.