ESPANOLA, N.M. (KRQE) - A local program designed to steer kids in northern New Mexico down the right path is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.
The program, which has seen more than 5,000 students come through, continues to see success with students moving on to higher education.
When school ends, organizers say that's when children are at their most vulnerable. To help give kids a safe haven to learn, while expressing themselves creatively, organizers established Moving Arts Espanola. It's a crucial program they say helps families living in an area faced with poverty and drugs.
"We've played a small role but a crucial role in how they found passion and purpose through the arts," said Roger Montoya, Program Director.
Over the years, the arts in public schools continue to dwindle, which is why this program was created. Montoya said he saw a new for art education.
It has since turned into an after-school program that's not only feeding kids but also their minds.
"I don't have to worry that if my son has gymnastics until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. that he will get home late but he's already done an hour of tutoring," said Michelle Peixinho.
At Moving Arts Espanola, kids can take classes ranging in anything from theater, circus arts, dance, to music.
Malaya Peixinho has been in the program for 10 years. Now 16 years old, she's pursuing a career in theater thanks to Moving Arts.
While it's helped her to find her passion, she says its helped her overcome peer pressure and find herself.
"It helped me connect with people. I found this amazing group of friends that I related to with the arts which is amazing. Like my mom said, it helped me with body image and I feel confident in I'm this dorky little weirdo but I'm okay with it, which is something that not a lot of people can say," said Malaya Peixinho.
Organizers say they've had 30 kids go on to the New Mexico School for the Arts, just like Malaya. They add 75 have also moved on to higher education.
Moving Arts Espanola will be celebrating its 10 years through a performance series. The first event is on March 29.
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