[The following was contributed by Annie Martin, Chairman of the Board for CYT Inc.]
It was such a blessing to be a CYT student. Although it was several years ago for me, my CYT experiences are a big part of the person I am today. I estimate that I was part of more than 20 CYT shows as a cast, crew, or production team member. As a teenager there was nothing I loved more than the buzz of the theater on opening night.
Now that I am again involved with CYT as a board member, I have done a lot of thinking about what CYT did for me. CYT helped me to develop: time management, responsibility, respect, team work, and creativity. (You expected me to list tap dance and singing didn’t you?) While I was in CYT, the shows were a huge part of my involvement but in reality, the preparation for all of the shows was a way for me to develop the “soft skills” that have become so important in my career. As a cast member in a CYT show you are expected to show up on time, take personal responsibility for remembering your lines/choreography, respect others by contributing to the quality of the show, and using your creativity.
On the surface CYT students are putting on a show. When you look a little deeper the students are learning how to “show up” (show up on time, show up every time, and show up ready). These life skills are definitely important to long-term success. I think the CYT program empowers their students with opportunities to strengthen these skills. CYT students can build a personal confidence in their ability to “show up”, make a time commitment, take on responsibility, and respect everyone as they embrace their own creativity.
I can’t think of any other youth program that has the potential to build these skills in their students while also emphasizing family, faith, and arts. CYT is so unique. I am so thankful for everything the program helped me build while I was a student. CYT isn’t just about the show – it’s about teaching our youth how to show up.