In southeast D.C.'s Ward 8, where half of all children live in poverty and homelessness, Project Create provides some of the kids facing these hardships a place to focus on using their imaginations.
Every week, the kids meet for 90 minutes to dance, create artwork and act.
They also go on field trips to art museums and plays and learn life skills.
"They might work on collaborating to make group piece, work on communicating, work on self-esteem and self-confidence ," says Christie Walser, Project Create's executive director.
At-risk youth exposed to high-quality arts education have greater success in academics and future employability, Walser says.
The program is free and available every week at eight locations in the city.
The students say Project Create gives them time to unwind.
"It's fun. It allows you to do smart things while being creative and showing what you know," says 12-year-old Curtis Gay.
For 14-year-old Tayvon Gay, it has helped him discover his calling to be an artist.
"I want to have big old posters and pictures and billboards and stuff in museums," Tayvon says.
For more on Project Create, click here.