Performance Miracles: Summer at the Center Gives Young People a Fresh Start

Photo credit: Doug Gifford

It’s hard to imagine a more moving experience than witnessing the performing arts transform a young person who has had a difficult life. For the past 28 years, nearly 900 high school students facing challenges such as substance or physical abuse, learning disabilities, gang affiliations, and more have participated in the Summer at the Center program, a two-week camp offered to Alternative, Community and Correctional Education Schools and Services students. Selected through interviews that gauge commitment and enthusiasm, participants get lessons in singing, dancing, and acting. They then finish with revue-style performances. This is one of many programs Segerstrom Center for the Arts raises money for through its annual Candlelight Concert, taking place this month.

“Students go through key experiences, which destroy old patterns of prejudice and change their outlook on life forever.”
Bill Brawley
artistic director

“Music and the arts have healing power; it gives the students a chance to reflect, forgive, love, and release without them really knowing it.”
Jarod Sheahan
musical director

“Summer at the Center teaches our kids that if they take the risk and dare to sing, dance, act, and expose themselves to the bright lights and the eyes and ears of hundreds of people, they can be somebody. This is a priceless gift.”
Judge Douglas Hatchimonji
Orange County Juvenile Court

“These young people inspire us with their hope and optimism against all odds. And humor!”
Judy Morr
executive vice president of Segerstrom Center for the Arts

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