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Summer camp uses the arts to keep students on track, off the streets

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 17:44:41-04

CLEVELAND — The power of the drums and the dynamic chants students play and shout are far from quiet, but they indeed bring peace to some of the students living in neighborhoods that are far peaceful.

The 99 Treasures Arts and Cultures Camp uses forms of creativity to help Black students overcome the pressures of life and make the right decisions.

“As a kid, I played with little drums, but I never did art like this,” said high school senior De’Eric Johnson. “The art aspect opened many doors for me to express my feelings."

Khalid Samad is the founder of Peace in the Hood, the group that organized the camp.

“Arts and culture is a healing, and used from the healing perspective the trauma that a lot of young people have endured, the trauma, the violence… what they see and what they hear."

The Center for Community Solutions says Black Cleveland Metro School District students are just over one and a half times as likely to be suspended compared to white students.

The organization also said there are nearly 12 times more Black youth institutionalized in Cuyahoga County than white youth.

Samad is attacking the issue at the root by using the arts and lived experiences, like Jeffrey Crosby's. He is 42 years old and shared his testimony with students during the camp.

Crosby said he’s a former gang member.

“I initially got involved because I wanted to make money,” said Crosby.

Decades later, Crosby turned his messy past into a message and he’s delivering it to the ears of kids that are the age he was when he veered down the wrong path.

“It’s the most important thing we can do, they are like sponges at this age,” said Crosby. “They will soak up the information you give them."

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