Anna’s Place offers an after-school program, Saturday program and summer camp aimed at promoting academic, cultural and artistic education for children in the Greater New Orleans community. By combining these aspects with holistic health care and lifestyle education, this organization aims to bring children in New Orleans a brighter future, and it has already achieved that goal for many kids.
The idea for this program began when Darryl Durham, a professional clarinetist and former Executive Director of the Harlem School of Arts, approached Fr. Bill Terry with the idea to create a program that introduces the arts to at-risk kids. Although learning about operas, dramas and music appealed to the children, many of them requested help with homework. To address this need, the program expanded to include a focus on academic work, as well as health and wellness.
Working in the program does present its share of challenges. Many of the children face academic difficulties, and over 80 percent read below grade level when they arrive. In addition, poverty, challenging family dynamics and behavioral issues also affect these kids. But Diana Meyers, Director of Mission and Wellness at Anna’s Place, and her team have strategies in place for helping them.
“To address these we provide a safe environment, positive reinforcement, dialogue about ethics and morals and reading/academic enhancement programs to give the kids a chance at a better, more productive life in the future,” says Meyers.
The program has received excellent responses from students and parents alike. In fact, some of the children have been with the Anna’s Place team for the entire eight years that the program has been in existence. Plus, the homework assistance and reading program has helped kids improve their grades and work toward brighter futures. Meyers credits Anna’s Place for helping the children achieve incredible things, including a full scholarship at Loyola University for vocal music, a chance to attend Jesuit High School’s summer academic program and even the opportunity to speak before the City Council.
At this time, the Anna’s Place team is in need of more consistent staff and teachers who can work with the program on a long-term basis. To this end, more grants, fundraising opportunities and volunteers are always welcome.
To learn more visit AnnasPlaceNola.org, call 947-2121 or email AnnasPlace@StAnnaNola.org.