Family First: Free after school program promotes art, education - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Family First: Free after school program promotes art, education

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Renzi Education and Art Center is located at 445 Egan St. Renzi Education and Art Center is located at 445 Egan St.
Students at Renzi prepare for Yoga class. Students at Renzi prepare for Yoga class.
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SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) -

In a world that can be so chaotic, we sometimes forget children can be caught in the middle of it all. A Shreveport organization hopes to be a place for kids to not only escape the madness, but be creative.

In an old section of the Highland neighborhood are two houses, often filled with ideas, laughter and hope. The Renzi Education and Art Center is a free after school program for kids of all ages. With a focus on arts and academics, the center helps children who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to attend programs similar to this because of the cost.

"We're able to explore their creativity and talents. Find ways to express themselves and with the academic classes we're able to help them with their school work," says Christy Kirkley, the Executive Director at Renzi.

Started 16 years ago by a congregation of nuns, Kirkley says the houses on Egan street were and still are surrounded by chaos, leaving the children in the middle of it all.

"A lot of the kids in the neighborhood didn't have a safe place to go to. Their parents are working multiple jobs or don't have the skills to cope with, dealing with drug addiction or mental health issues."

This type of influence needs some help, the schools consist of several volunteers and teachers, most of them local artist and educators.

James Marks, an art teacher at Renzi, says he likes the fact Renzi doesn't try to jam you with 30 kids in the hopes that 15 of them will still be around by the second day of class. Development Director Jennifer Jill says the art classes sometime serve as an escape for the children.

"They can go into a different world where they would like to be or they can think about being and they're in control of it." says Hill. "They're vanquishing the monsters or creating the dragon they want to create, it can even be pink one day."

She and the other leaders at Renzi hope through these few hours a day after school, students can grow to become who they want to be.

The Renzi Education and Art Center is located at 445 Egan Street. They can also be reached at 222-1414.

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