Life-to-Literature at Colin Powell Elementary School in Union City, NJ

  • Aug 10, 2022

Arts Horizons is pleased to spotlight our Life-to-Literature (L2L) program from Colin Powell Elementary School in Union City, NJ. This program was part of a grant award from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) for the Arts Education Special Initiative (AESI). AESI is a two-year grant program that provides support for innovative arts education projects that make substantial contributions to arts education in NJ schools and youth agencies. Our Life-to-Literature program reached bilingual students who participated in Improvisational Theater, Music and Spoken Word programs. The artforms are proven to break down language barriers and was designed and taught by Teaching Artists Michele Baldwin and Jahlil Shabazz. Ms. Stephanie E. Bostic, Arts Horizons Manager of NJ Programs managed all aspects of the project.

“We were charged as role models to introduce the students to improv, meditation, word mapping, visualization and other creative skills that would help them develop an understanding of the creative process that would support their social and emotional wellbeing during the pandemic.”

Ms. Michele Baldwin, Life-to-Literature designer and facilitator

Children facing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic used the arts to begin a healing process and develop coping skills for maintaining their wellbeing. Through improvisation, playwriting, journaling and the visual arts, students shared their experiences and fears. Through meditation, they also discovered tools to nurture their mental health and daily social and emotional learning.

My favorite part is seeing what the student be able to take what we have given them and take it to the next level. Their imagination is always the part of the program that brings it all together. While we came to the program with a very specific message, they took that message and made it their own. They took the practices of meditation, improv and mediation that we brought to the forefront, and they made it their own and had a whole lot of fun doing it.

Mr. Jahil Shabazz, Life-to-Literature Program Designer and Facilitator

“My favorite part was meditation I felt more relaxed and less stress out after meditation because I could let my feelings out. Another thing I like was when we acted. We basically could do anything or go anywhere we wanted in our imaginations, and I thought it was really fun.” L2L Student Participant

It is clear the pandemic is not over. It continues to drastically affect the lives of our children, and programs like Life to Literature are essential. We are pleased to continue with the second year of the program with the two-year grant award from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, created in 1966, is a division of the NJ Department of State. The Council was established to encourage and foster public interest in the arts; enlarge public and private resources devoted to the arts; promote freedom of expression in the arts; and facilitate the inclusion of art in every public building in New Jersey. To learn more about the Council, please visit

For more information, please contact Stephanie Bostic, Manager of NJ Programs:

Stephanie E. Bostic

Program Manager of NJ Programs

201-567-1766 ext. 114