When I was a little girl I remember not knowing how to speak English and the anxiety of not knowing how to communicate with anyone made me extremely shy. Through the arts, I found an outlet to express my thoughts, emotions, intuitions and desires.

My exposure to the arts started in elementary school classrooms where different instructors, who specialized in painting, drawing or music, would teach us for 45 minutes, twice a week.

Through this, I gained the courage to communicate with peers and feel confident in my work. I went on to join the school band and participate in school plays. I was able to express myself and be creative in everything I did. I made friends and gained confidence in my communication skills as I was no longer afraid of curiosity and asking questions.

The arts transformed my creativity into a cheat for writing essays and solving math problems. I enjoyed the arts so much that when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grow up I would say an artist.

However, I learned that elders didn’t approve of my answer. They would say things like “art won’t make you rich” or “you should be an engineer or lawyer instead.”

It made me believe art was meaningless and I shouldn’t spend time on it. So that’s what I did. I slowly stopped buying coloring books, stopped making art for my parents and stopped participating in my school’s band.

My world suddenly got dull and boring. School was no longer fun and I didn’t look forward to it.

Today, the arts are the first thing targeted by budget cuts. Government and schools are decreasing art funding and leaving us with little to nothing to fund this subject.

It’s sad to hear this because there was a time when art and creativity started in a classroom. It’s something you can apply in every single aspect of your life. That’s the beauty and importance of it.

When I look back at my childhood my mind was heavy with ideas and it was a classroom where I was the happiest. I could paint, draw, sing and move to the creativity happening inside my head.

The arts helped my development growing up and to know that children are getting deprived of this subject is terrifying for the future.

A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair, or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.

Integrating arts into curriculum is essential to creating well rounded students because it forces kids to think critically and express themselves.

Without this creative outlet, students have increased stress with all the intense testing required of them.

According to APA’s latest Stress in America research, children say they worry about doing well in school, getting into good colleges and their family’s finances. They also report suffering headaches, sleeplessness and upset stomachs.

These findings blow my mind because children shouldn’t be stressing over tests throughout their adolescence. These are years they will never get back and they should be using their energy at this age to focus on the skills that art has to offer.

“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known,” Oscar Wilde said.

However, today kids are struggling to be their own person.

Children won’t go outside to explore, express their feelings or create ideas. Without it in their classrooms or homes, they are so thirsty for inspiration that they indulge in videos of other people’s lives to give their own some meaning

If all children were required to take art from elementary to high school we would have more individuals with a meaningful life.

We should all remember the days when art was the most fun in a classroom and encourage our little brothers and sisters to join an art subject that will change their life for the better.

“Art is humanity’s most essential, most universal language. It is not a frill, but a necessary part of communication. The quality of civilization can be measured through its music, dance, drama, architecture, visual art and literature,” Ernest L. Boyer said.

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