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'I Am Somebody'

DATE: Monday, June 14, 2021

Racial justice education program runs July 19-22

School age children goofing around on a school bus

Holyoke Community College and Enchanted Circle Theater are joining forces to offer an in-person racial justice education program this summer for area youth.

Called "I Am Somebody," the four-day, interactive, performing arts program, will run Monday, July 19, through Thursday, July 22, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon each day in the HCC Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development.

The program is free and limited to 15 youth aged 8 to 11 chosen through a lottery to be held Monday, June 21.

"Enchanted Circle is proud to offer this exciting new creative youth development program in partnership with Holyoke Community College," said Priscilla Kane Hellweg, executive and artistic director of Enchanted Circle Theater, a Holyoke-based nonprofit that combines arts and education. "The arts are such a powerful teaching and learning tool for the expression of cultural identity and an inspiring platform for getting to know ourselves and each other." 

Participants will explore racial justice through a variety of creative activities, including writing, music, visual art, movement, and theater."Students will be encouraged to find and use their own unique voices to express their understanding of equity and racial justice," said Michele Cabral, HCC executive director of Professional Education and Corporate Learning. "In celebrating themselves, each other and our collective community, they will examine how we are each unique, diverse adn yet all connected."

Following the final session on July 22, parents are invited to attend a lunch and family arts sharing celebration from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Kittredge Center.

The sessions will be led by Enchanted Circle teaching artists Maya Rivera, of South Hadley, and Axel Cruz, of Chicopee.

Rivera is a visual artist, performer, vocalist, photographer, who holds a bachelor's degree in theater from Smith College; Cruz, a Holyoke Community College and University of Massachusetts theater alum, is an actor, dancer, choreographer, theater director, stage manager, and designer.   

In advance of the June 21 lottery, interested parents and their children are encouraged to attend a Virtual Family Information session on Thursday, June 13, at 5:30 p.m.

To sign up for the information session or to apply for the "I Am Somebody" program, please email Sharon Grundel at

PHOTO courtesy of Enchanted Circle Theater