youth on the mic at Centrum arts program

ProgramYouthStrong Voices

About Strong Voices

Ages 10 - 15 | Spring 2024

Strong Voices Arts Academy provides outstanding arts experiences for middle school and high school students in Washington State’s foster care programs. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Education’s (OSPI) believes that their experiences in meaningful arts classes will both inspire them to find their own strengths and creativity and be an avenue through which increased literacy and academic development takes place.

For this program, Centrum collaborates with OSPI and schools from around Washington State. This year’s in-person program will serve 45 students as they dive into theater, visual art, song writing, music, poetry, and dance for four days, guided by an outstanding artist faculty and the idea that the arts reveal essential insights and ways of learning that can resonate meaningfully in the lives of young people.

youth perform at Fort Worden

Join The Next Session

Strong Voices Arts Academy

Strong Voices Arts Academy

  • Tuition free program open to students impacted by the foster care system
  • Classes focus on giving students opportunity to share their unique story - dive into theater, visual art, songwriting, music, poetry, and dance
  • Artist faculty have direct experience with the foster care system
  • Students grouped in dorms and classes by: elementary, middle school and high school

Experience Strong Voices

2023 Classes

Picturing the Inner Voice — Danielle Fodor
Drawing is something that cannot be taken away from you – it is power of self-expression, opened up with just pen and paper. The images we create can be joyful, silly, intense, or fearful. These images give voice to dreams and emotions in ways that words struggle to. In this class, there is no wrong way to draw – but we’ll explore many ways of starting to draw, playing with pen and paper, spending time beyond the reach of words, and conversing with pictures. Working with comics, doodles, self-portraits, and found drawings, we will give shape and form to our inner voices.

Reclamation Music — Rebecca Elatiki
Reclamation is a journey through the elements of songwriting, where we use music as a tool for self-reflection, play, and self-expression. The philosophy of this experience is rooted in the understanding that communicating emotion is at the heart of songwriting. We will use music as an avenue to access our full spectrum emotions, reclaim stories, share our voices, and connect with others through our shared humanity. The intention of this course is to allow students to be present with their emotions and stories, and to embody them in a way that’s authentic, playful, and artistic. Students learn practices to explore and how to translate their emotions into music and develop a piece of art that reflects their internal world. Students have the option to write directly from lived experience or to write fictionally.
We will explore joy, love, sadness, and personal expression in effort to make space for what arises in a students’ process. The course concludes with a reflection on what was learned, what was discovered, as well as an opportunity to be witnessed in their final song. This course is designed for people who are new to songwriting, or who want to take their craft to a new level.

Breakdance — Robert Eyerman
Using music as an inspiration, learn the foundation of breakdancing, or “breaking.” The four fundamental components, toprock, footwork, freezes, and power moves are demonstrated and taught. With Robert teaching some new-found knowledge and skills, students learn to create dance routines. Everyone has the opportunity to battle against and perform with one another by exploring the arts of cyphering, battling, and performing. Perfect for those with little-to-no dance experience who are dedicated, enthusiastic, and open-hearted about learning.

Giant Puppets — Margie McDonald
Bring Giants to life. Students work together to create large puppets using simple materials such as cardboard, wire, fabric, sticks, and tape. The Giants come to life on stage for Friday’s Student Showcase, accompanied by an invented narrative.

Your Story On Stage — Jonathan Rizzardi
The Your Story On Stage pathway at Centrum’s Strong Voices program uses theater, movement, and performance art to amplify the unique lived experiences of young artists as they create an original devised theater piece as an ensemble. Burgeoning performers work together to share novel stories (fictional, autobiographical, political/newsworthy, popular culture-based) that they feel represent them—what makes them collectively smile, laugh, think, hurt, and change. After experimenting with dramatic play and storytelling through acting, playwriting, improvisation, Playback Theatre, Theatre of the Oppressed, and other performance forms, artists will weave an original story to perform for the group that represents them, and the world they hope to build in years to come.

Parents & Guardians
The safety and comfort of your children is our highest priority. Meals at Fort Worden State Park are served on campus at the Fort Worden Commons. Students are housed in historic fort buildings renovated as dormitories.

What to Bring & What Not to Bring
Cell phones and electronic devices are not allowed at Centrum Youth Programs. In case of emergency, Centrum's program manager and staff carry phones and will notify you as soon as possible. You may leave a message for your student at any time with Program Manager Alyssa de Leon (360) 385-3102 x120. You will receive contact information in an email prior to the start of the program.

Please bring these items:
• An extra blanket (it can be cold)
• Warm clothes (including a warm jacket)
• Rain gear • Clothes you can get messy in (paint, etc.)
• Soap & shampoo
• Day Pack
• Water bottle or canteen
• Hat (such as a baseball cap)
• An alarm clock
• Flashlight
• Spiral notebook or journal
• Pens, pencils and erasers
• Clothes you can MOVE in for dance, theater, etc. (not jeans)

• Musical instruments
• Camera
• Quarters and soap (To do laundry)
• Healthy snacks (Centrum provides three meals a day, as well as light evening and afternoon snacks. Students are welcome to bring additional snacks, however we strongly discourage sending students to Centrum with large amounts of sugary snacks).
• Linens are provided in the dormitory, including pillows, sheets, blankets and towels, but an extra blanket can come in handy.
• Bathing suit, if you are bashful. You may want to bring a suit for when you take a shower, although there are individual shower stalls for privacy.

Please go through this list carefully, and call if you have any questions. Providing extra care in helping your student prepare for the week will enhance their experience greatly. Thank you for your help!

If you have any more questions about Strong Voices, please contact Alyssa de Leon at 360-385-3102, x120, or adeleon@centrum (dot) org.

Find more answers - Centrum FAQs

Photo of Rebecca Elatiki

Rebecca Elatiki


Rebecca is a Moroccan-American artist and activist, whose work lives at the intersection of art, humanitarian work, and cultural curiosity. Her professional roots in social work have provided her training in trauma-informed care, and enabled her to travel the world, working with diverse and vulnerable populations. From orphanages in India to healing circles in Latin America, she has used creative arts as a vehicle for cross-cultural connection and healing.…

Photo of Robert Eyerman

Robert Eyerman

Robert Eyerman, aka Bboy Bobby Drake, started breaking in 2005 at the age of 13. Three years later he co-founded the Dog Pound Crew. His group works frequently alongside the Seattle Theater Group, dancing in productions such as DANCE This, Global Party, and Sasquatch Music Festival. Robert highly values education, graduating from the University of Washington with two degrees – chemistry and biochemistry.…

Photo of Danielle Fodor

Danielle Fodor


Danielle Fodor is a visual artist who works with the communities and individuals to create vibrant visions of today and tomorrow. She has worked with hundreds of volunteers to paint murals and public plazas, designed giant puppets and banners, and written and illustrated indie comics and zines. Her work transforms people and places by celebrating common ground, expressing unspoken emotions, and nourishing the connections between people, place, and the natural world.…

Photo of Margie McDonald

Margie McDonald


Margie McDonald is the artistic director for the Port Townsend Wearable Art Show now heading into its sixth year.
Margie’s work in Wearable art and sculpture has been exhibited in the New Zealand World of Wearable Art Exhibition, Bainbridge Island Art Museum, Museum of Northwest Art, Northwind Arts Center and Simon Mace Gallery.

Photo of Jonathan Rizzardi

Jonathan Rizzardi


Jonathan M. Rizzardi (they/he) is a Seattle-area performing artist and theatre historian. After moving from Washington, D.C. to complete their PhD in Theatre History and Theory at the University of Washington School of Drama, Jonathan has continued to teach youth theatre, act, facilitate arts educator training programs, and develop social activist-focused curriculum here in the PNW.…

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