The D.C. Chapter of Jack and Jill of America held their 25th Anniversary of Jumoke celebration at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus, nown as THEARC, in Southeast D.C. Feb. 22.
The event focused on community strength and artistic and cultural awareness. It offered children the opportunity to have a good time with other children and families while learning about African American history.
Jumoke, meaning “one who loves the child,” attracted children and parents from around the city. THEARC was packed with child-friendly arts and activities. Kids happily roamed the large facility with painted faces, sticky fingers and wide smiles.
During the first half of the day, adolescents could participate in art and crafts, enjoy an open snack bar, get caricature drawings made, play Xbox Live games, workout with zumba, play basketball and much more.
“ I got to paint my face!” young Chameleon Douglas exclaimed, while wiggling with excitement. “I got to eat snacks and see ballet dancers!”
Later in the day, children enjoyed live performances from the Ballou High School Band, the Washington Ballet youth program and the Washington Performing Arts Society Children of the Gospel Choir. Mayor Vincent C. Gray stopped in to witness the fun. A slide show was also presented teaching a brief history of the African American culture, images accompanied by ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice, the Black National Anthem.
Mom Tonya Isaacs said she brought her children out for a good time, but also for an education.
“Anytime my children have the opportunity to celebrate their heritage, their culture and see other people doing the same, I mean it’s a phenomenal opportunity, one that I can’t pass up,” she said.
THEARC is the first theater in Washington D.C.’s Ward 8. The theater, run by the nonprofit Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR), gives local residents access to arts and diverse cultural activities. THEARC hosts over 300 events each year and houses over 10 facilities, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Levine School of Music and the Washington Ballet.
Simba Sana said he had as good a time as his daughter.
“It just gives me a good feeling knowing that she’s doing something that she enjoys,” Sana said. “Once you see in your children that they love something, then as a parent your job is to help enforce that, push them and encourage them in the right direction.”
Gina Adams, senior vice president of government affairs for FedEx and the chair of the Jumoke committee, said the celebration paid tribute to the importance of the arts in African-American culture.
“This is very critically important to me, not just because it’s Black History Month and we’re celebrating our culture, but because of the impact that it has on our lives,” Adams said. “Everybody can participate in arts and music. It’s the great equalizer.”