Clad in wigs, Santa hats and feather boas, children laughed and
marched around a room at the Olive Recreation Center to the beat of a
Others in an adjacent room made paper machete masks with glitter,
colored tissue paper and glue as part of a Mardi Gras celebration.
The children were participating in Festive Experiences week, the
sixth and final week of Arts Experiences Camp taking place at the
Olive Recreation Center. The program incorporates art, theater, music
and dance with the study of other cultures.
"You get to be creative and show what you feel," said Kristineh
Melik-Kasumyan, 10, who wore a bright pink feather boa during the
In addition to learning about parades and Mardi Gras, Festive
Experience week includes Day of the Dead and New Years celebrations.
Each previous week the program had a different region of the world as
its theme. During an Asian-themed week, children learned to draw
different Chinese characters and practiced making origami. During the
week that covered Africa, they learned African dances and listened to
a speaker from South Africa.
"It opens their eyes to different cultures besides their own,"
said Norman Morales, one of the program leaders, adding that the
program is beneficial because it allows children to physically
participate in different cultural practices rather than just seeing
it on TV or studying it in school.
Tyler Brooks, 9, agrees.
"We can't really learn it in school, we don't get to actually do
the dances," said Tyler, who likes Japanese comics, and enjoyed
learning how to draw Japanese animation during the week that covered
Elizabeth Mkroyan, 10, who wore a "granny" wig during the parade,
most enjoyed learning about the self portraits of Frida Kahlo, by
making self portraits of her own.
"It's easier to draw yourself," she said.
Alejandra Biolatto, a senior recreation leader for Burbank Park,
Recreation and Community Services, is in charge of the program and
believes it not only teaches children about art and other countries
but helps give them a greater appreciation for other cultures.
"It gives the kids great insight into different world cultures,"
says Biolatto. "It shows kids we're more alike than different and it
teaches them to get to know people from other cultures, and hopefully
makes them more tolerant human beings."