Soulsville teaches kids Memphis pride - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Soulsville teaches kids Memphis pride

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

It's that time of the year when nearly all of us think about gravitating toward heading home. As adults, you and I know that place. It's supposed to be where your heart is. But, when you're a child how much do you really know about the town or the city that you're supposed to embrace and hopefully love living in? That's where the Watoto Academy of Performing Arts comes in, using the arts and history to improve the academic and social skills of children and youth.

What better way to open up  little 3 to 5 year old minds than bribing them with Christmas cheer in the form of inviting them to the "Toyland in Soulsville" celebration at the place that serves as "home" for Watoto, the Memphis Cultural Arts Enrichment Center downtown?

 "There's some challenges in early childhood development and we thought we'd been so successful with our college program, with our high school and middle school...Let's go down to that younger age," says Watoto Memphis founder Donald O'Connor.

That risk is paying off. From a program that began with only 9 pre-kindergartners a few years ago, some 60 will take part in a city financed academic program of 90 minute classes on Saturdays beginning in January.

The children will be learning about the history of Memphis that's not just taught from books. It'll be lot more "interactive."

"You love the place that you know most about. This is home. So, let's teach them about home. Let's do things on the river. Let's do things with the trolley. So, as kids try to get them into Memphis," explains O'Connor.

So, if you learn to love the city as a child, than you might stay to make it better as an educated adult. What a wonderful Christmas wish!

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