Hip Hop Connections, represented by Arts Horizons, featured 4 performers who demonstrated/educated using the creative elements DJing, MCing, Human Beatboxing, Breaking, Popping, and Graffiti Art.  These artists have experience working with special needs students and created accessible/interactive sections that encouraged participation.  Students had the opportunity to Beatbox, dance, use DJ equipment, and create, in groups and individually. 

"If you have any doubt about the impact of the music on your mind and body, just take a moment and think about or actually listen to your favorite song and then notice how you feel,” said Renee Redding-Jones, Director of the Limitless Arts Program at The Performing Arts School at bergenPAC, which provides arts education for exceptional children of all ages and abilities.  “I watched this occur in the most beautiful spontaneous manner on July 30th at the Felician School for Exceptional Students when Hip Hop Connection presented an assembly and workshops to over 45 students, staff and administrators," continued Redding-Jones.

Redding-Jones described the student participation as extraordinary.  

"One by one they jumped to their feet dancing to the beat, eager to participate in a performance that led us viscerally through an oral history of hip hop," remarked Redding-Jones. "Students were eager to show off their moves and to test out their skills as a DJ and beat boxing."

The most poignant part of the day was to hear from teachers how amazed they were at seeing students, that they hadn’t been able to reach previously, express such joy and enthusiasm. Many of the teachers were said to be moved to tears.  "These students were those that did not typically actively participate in their school day,” remarked Redding-Jones.   "They had low or no verbal skills and were attempting to do the verbal beat boxing and making sound!  The music therapist was so impressed by what she was seeing, that she declared that she was going to include hip hop in her work to help better engage the students," Redding-Jones added.

"Many of our talented artists have experience working with special needs students,” said Arts Horizons’ Program Manager Gloria Page. "They are uniquely qualified in encouraging participation from young and old no matter their ability. We are always thrilled to see the results!"

“The Provident Bank Foundation places strong emphasis on education programs for the youth in the Bank’s service area. We are proud to support an educational program which encompasses the arts and creativity for the kids,” said Jane Kurek, Executive Director, The Provident Bank Foundation.

bergenPAC has also been contracted by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to present accessible programs for children with special needs in northern New Jersey. 

For more information about Limitless Arts - arts education for exceptional children of all ages and abilities, visit bergenpac.org/limitlessarts.

Photos courtesy of Felician School for Exceptional Children



About Arts Horizons

For over 37 years, Arts Horizons has impacted the lives of more than 9 million children and adults through the power of the arts. Located in Englewood, New Jersey, Arts Horizons is committed to making the performing, visual, literary and media arts and artistic expression equitable and accessible to diverse people of all ages and abilities. In 2008, Arts Horizons opened the Arts Horizons Leroy Neiman Art Center in Harlem, NY, to celebrate and strengthen the community through the arts, and provide programs, exhibitions, screenings, performances and public talks for Harlem residents of all ages. Arts Horizons is funded in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, with whom they co-sponsor the NJ Artist/Teacher Institute (aTi). The acclaimed Artist/Teacher Institute immerses classroom teachers, educators and artists in hands-on workshops in the performing, visual, literary and digital arts.  Led by master teaching artists, aTi participants discover new pathways to creative teaching and learning in and through the arts while igniting their artistry and connecting with a community of peers.