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Ever since I started at Spy Hop I’ve always enjoyed the experience of sharing the things we do with the youngest of the young people we see. Going out and doing POPS assemblies or outreach at school and community events is great, but what about something even more engaging than an assembly for these younger students? What about programming designed specifically for their age, exposing them to technology, art and creativity early on in life? They’re already surrounded by it, why not teach them now all the positive ways media and technology play a factor in their lives and how they can use these mediums to begin telling their own stories? 

All these questions have been discussed more and more over the last year as we grow as an organization and move into our new home at the Kahlert Youth Media Arts Center and these discussions have led to new program ideas, partnerships and amazing experiences with some incredible young people. This spring we started an online school intensive program with 3rd and 4th graders from Mana Academy in West Valley and the response was amazing! Both teachers and students looked forward to working on projects with the Spy Hop Mentors and really bonded with them over the course of 6 weeks. We fell in love with the kids at Mana academy so much that we needed to plan a second round of class intensives before summer and are planning summer programming for students involved in summer school at their school facilities. Students will get an even deeper look into the Spy Hop experience, further establishing their curiosity in media arts and all the possibilities open to their creativity.  

In addition to our programming with schools like Mana Academy, as the Kahlert Youth Media Arts Center becomes more and more a home for Spy Hop and the community, we want to make sure we’re no longer missing out on opportunities to engage the young and the curious. We want to establish a clear belief, early in young people, that Spy Hop is truly a place for them where they can feel safe, be creative and learn. The Spy Hop Art Shop will be getting a physical representation and space in the new building and we’re looking forward to all the amazing and creative things that young people are going to have the chance to explore with us in our new home! 

2020 brought a lot of stress, pain, anxiety; you name it. But it also forced us to do what we do best, be creative, and figure out new ways we can continue to support more and more young people in the media arts here at Spy Hop. I’d rather look at the glass half full and keep putting smiles on the faces of more young people that haven’t had the chance to know Spy Hop yet.

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