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  • Arts In Reach—Making A Difference

    This material is provided by Arts in Reach and shared by the Chamber Collaborative.

    PORTSMOUTH —This week Arts in Reach (AIR) releases Making A Difference, a new report detailing the long-term impact of its arts-based programming and mentoring on teenage girls from New Hampshire’s Greater Seacoast region.

    The report showcases key findings from the second comprehensive survey of AIR alumnae, following the first in 2015. “Making A Difference tells an important story about the powerful and lasting influence of AIR on the teens we serve,” says Executive Director Debra Holloway. “Researchers talk about the gap in opportunities available to vulnerable teens who confront inequalities based on income, gender, health issues, race, and sexual orientation. This report shows how AIR has closed these opportunity gaps for teenage girls and inspires them to thrive.”

    Making A Difference describes AIR’s positive impact on teens’ social and emotional growth during a crucial time in their development. It shows how AIR helps teens cope with adversity and gain resilience through self-confidence and positive relationships. It also details the extent to which AIR prevents common teenage risk behaviors, like self-harm, substance use, and suicidality. Participation in AIR enables 83% of its alumnae to find and create social support systems.

    Many alumnae share stories about coping with adversity and managing mental health challenges. One alumna reports, “AIR informed me that I was capable of a lot more than I ever thought and helped me cope through some of the roughest, most painful years of my life.”

    Another alumna says, “In many ways, AIR saved my life.”

    The report also illustrates how AIR provides pathways to possibilities and influences teens’ future success in education and careers. Alumnae gain leadership and essential skills that empower 98% of respondents to graduate from high school and 75% to pursue post-secondary education.

    AIR alumnae not only pursue education but also become engaged citizens. They vote at a rate (75%) that is more than double the national average for 18-24-year-old women. Further, over half of alumnae (55%) continue to volunteer in their communities after AIR, a 223% increase over the national average for 20-24-year-old women (17%) and a rate of volunteerism 90% higher than for NH residents (29%).

    As one AIR alumna describes, “AIR gave me the confidence to stand up for myself and my beliefs, to not only advocate for myself but for people whose voice might not be heard otherwise.” 

    Arts In Reach (AIR) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in the Greater Seacoast region of New Hampshire. Since 1997, AIR has provided arts-based programs with mentoring by professional artists for teenage girls. AIR offers girls age 11-22-years-old in-person and virtual out-of-school programs that are inclusive and accessible free-of-charge, including free transportation and technology assistance. To read the full report and learn more about AIR, visit www.artsinreach.org.