April 23, 2007 — The University of Utah Fine Arts Auditorium will fill with laughter, music, and movement as children who attend Neighborhood House perform the original production “Neighborhood Jungle Pie” on April 25th at 6:30 p.m. The performance is the culmination of a partnership between University students enrolled in the Fine Arts LEAP, “Learning, Engagement, Achievement, and Progress” program, and children from Neighborhood House, a Salt Lake City daycare facility for financially disadvantaged children. In addition, a documentary about the creation of “Neighborhood Jungle Pie” will be screened that evening.
LEAP is a learning community that enables new University students to play an active role in their own education. Jennifer M. Bauman, Ph.D. designed Fine Arts LEAP and is the director. She says, “This year’s Fine Arts LEAP students have taken the concepts they learned in class about community building and applied them to a major service project. Students have been responsible for a wide range of tasks including grant writing, exhibition design, press and publicity, set and costume design, direction, volunteer work with the children, documentary photography, production management, and much more. These students had to learn how to work together as a team, with each committee dependent on the others, in order to accomplish the final product.
The Fine Arts LEAP students worked closely with the Neighborhood House children to show them their potential in the Fine Arts. According to Jacob Brace, Director of Neighborhood House, “We are very excited for this project. It will give the children a new perspective of what their futures can hold.” Both he and Bauman believe the connections created through the past few months have helped both students and children see another way of life and strive to unite within their community. Fine Arts LEAP student Jacinda Bachus agrees, “I have learned that people with a common goal can create something marvelous… I never thought it would be so easy to collaborate with such diverse people to make such a unified project a reality.” Student Annette Mehr adds, “Throughout my experience working with Neighborhood House the best and most rewarding part was working with the children. I realized these were some of the most self-aware and self-asserted children I’ve ever met. Although it was not always easy, a strong bond and sense of community was created and recreated every time we worked with them.” When asked what he thought about working with the Fine Arts LEAP students, eight-year-old Angel, a Neighborhood House participant, simply said, “They are my best, best, best, best, very best friends.”
Fine Arts LEAP consists of a year-long seminar that focuses on the theme of community. Students follow the course the entire year with the same instructor, Peer Advisor, and classmates, thereby forming an interdisciplinary fine arts community. The documentary on the creation of “Neighborhood Jungle Pie” was produced by student interns under the supervision of Professor Craig Wirth of the University of Utah, Department of Communication.
An exhibit about the creative process behind the “Neighborhood Jungle Pie” project, and how the work of individual students combined to create the final product, is on display at the Marriott Library on the 1st and 2nd floors of the west entrance through April 30. For more information about LEAP visit www.leap.utah.edu.