Provider Spotlight: STAGES Performing Arts Youth Academy
By Michael Coiner
For this month’s newsletter, we spoke with Cindy Wilkins or, as her students call her, “Mama Wilkins” at STAGES Performing Arts Youth Academy. Cindy shared all the amazing and wonderful things her organization does and how vital it is for the Hillsboro area.
STAGES offers a myriad of programs for people ages 6-22. These include countless classes and workshops to help young actors hone their craft. They also offer “Stage Troupers” which tours children throughout the Portland area to perform a selected one-act musical. Another point of pride is the "I'm a Star" program for children with intellectual disabilities. STAGES also offers art, yoga classes, and so much more!
Sadly, these programs are on pause until the pandemic eases, but classes in other formats are available now. After securing two grants to purchase equipment, photography classes were offered to students. They became so popular, parents wanted to take them, too! While these experiences have been enjoyable, “Mama Wilkins” and her kids look forward to the day they can share space together again. The energy and mood during a live performance is unlike anything one can experience online. Recently, a generous donor provided them with a large canopy, and she hopes to offer outdoor classes and performances soon. She would also like to offer a public speaking workshop for youth to develop their voice in conversation. This opportunity, along with performing in front of audiences, provides them with valuable speaking experience that will carry through into adulthood.
A child who works with STAGES is part of the family for life. Cindy has many beautiful stories of watching her former students, as adults, performing for audiences in professional theatre companies. These children not only learn vital creative skills, but they are given a second home where they can feel safe to express themselves.
Cindy is very grateful for all the grants and donations her organization has received. Without that support, Hillsboro wouldn’t have this incredible resource for children interested in the performing arts. Before opening STAGES, Cindy was a teacher, then worked as a social worker for an international adoption agency. This only showed her how vital and necessary after-school programs are for children.
Cindy works with Washington County Kids because she sees how important it is to secure a steady source of funding for programs like hers. Without the funding she has been gifted, many children would be denied an opportunity to learn and try new things after school. She is proud to say that all children, no matter their financial need, have a chance to play at STAGES. The funding she has been fortunate to receive has provided her with that assurance. She would like all programs in the area to have the same peace of mind.
For more information about STAGES, please visit their website.