City Hearts Shakespeare Challenge – Can you help?

City Hearts: Kids Say Yes to the Arts is holding its 3rd Annual Shakespeare Challenge & 27th Anniversary Recital on Saturday, June 2nd and is looking for businesses and organizations that would be able to donate prizes for the competition. The students from impoverished communities across Los Angeles County have been studying Shakespeare through City Hearts for the past year and this event brings them all together to perform scenes and monologues before a panel of encouraging judges at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. 

This is more in the nature of a ‘self’ competition, but there will be prizes for everyone. (There will be 1st & 2nd place winners and everyone else comes in 3rd, so all the participating children will receive prizes.) They are collecting as many prizes as possible, so that no one goes home empty handed. Almost anything will do: stickers, dolls, books, anything related to Shakespeare.

The Shakespeare Challenge utilizes Shakespearean drama to inspire students in the study of history, culture, vocabulary, literacy and stagecraft, as well as to promote skills in creative movement, group cooperation, teamwork and conflict resolution. Students explore the historical context of Shakespeare’s plays, discussing the life and times of Shakespeare and his contemporaries while learning scansion, stage combat and Elizabethan movement.

City Hearts began with classes for 60 impoverished children from the Skid Row area of downtown L.A. in January, 1985. Sherry Jason and her husband, Bob, met as attorneys in the Juvenile Division of the L.A. County Public Defender’s Office in 1977, representing kids charged with crimes. As a result of seeing the tragedy in children’s lives on a daily basis, and utilizing Sherry’s background as a former Ballerina, still a Ballet teacher, the pair formulated specific theories on the nature of delinquency and how to use the Arts to intervene, impact, inspire and prevent the terrible revolving door of gang violence and juvenile crime. They currently work with over 2,500 children ages 5-18 annually, and just celebrated their 27th anniversary and 30,000 children who have been through their program.

City Hearts: Kids Say Yes to the Arts works only with our community’s most impoverished, and at-greatest-risk children who would never have access or opportunity for quality Arts education and experiences without City Hearts efforts. They provide ongoing, daily classes in Dance, Shakespeare, Musical Theatre, Photography, Filmmaking, and Playwrighting.

Last October, with the inspiration and guidance of GLEE’s Max Adler, who plays the bully, Dave Karovsky, they created and instituted the Max’s ABC: Anti-Bullying through City Hearts initiative. Through this work, they learned that in some of their elementary-level classes, 100% of the children report having been bullied.

City Hearts’ aim is to teach through the Arts, allowing students to respect their peers, accept the differences and recognize the strengths, celebrating everyone’s efforts. “Be Brave Enough to Be Kind” is the motto and theme of the Initiative. For more about all of the City Hearts programs visit If you are able to donate prizes to the Shakespeare Competition, please contact Sherry or Jane @ 310-455-2898 or


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