Celebrating community unity with music, line dancing, crafts and a “cake-walk” variation of musical chairs, the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Technology (PCAT) hosted its first-ever Fall Festival in West Oak Lane on Saturday.
The sister company of Foundations Inc., PCAT works with more than 300 students in several Northwest Philadelphia schools. Its director, Kristyn Stewart, said more than 20 volunteers from nonprofits like Playworks and Youth Build Philly helped set up the festival in the 2100 block of Eastburn Ave.
“We’ve had a great turnout, a mix of community members, young and old,” Stewart said.
“We try to give community members an opportunity to showcase their talents for the rest of the community,” continued Stewart, who has been with the group since June and hoped “to bring the community together for a positive event, have them interact, for kids to get to know each other and give them opportunities to get their energy out and be creative.”
Engaging the community
Stewart said one of the festival’s aims was “to show people what PCAT has to offer and to get people to see where we are because a lot of people still don’t know we’re here. Many of these people, it’s their first time here.”
That applied to Lynndrena Neal, who attended with her daughter.
“I didn’t know about the program. I got the leaflet in school. I think it’s great what they’re doing. It’s good to be a part of it,” Neal said. “We’re definitely going to be signing up for some of the things they have.”
PCAT parent talks
Yolanda Hennigan, a working mother, has two daughters who have attended PCAT’s after-school program since October.
“They really enjoy themselves,” Hennigan said. “It really has been a learning experience for them. They’re excited every time they attend.”
Once, the children had an opportunity to build go karts from everyday recycled materials. One of the daughters, Kayonna, said she likes the PCAT science classes.
“It’s fun because we do activities and learn more things,” Kayonna said. “Say we’re in science class, we learn about body parts and make them out of play dough.”
Kim Beverly, an author and rapper, performed with the PCAT line dancers at the festival.
“They asked me to perform today and do a couple of songs,” Beverly said. “It’s my pleasure to bring the unity together plus share what I like to do.
“Just the unity that’s here — there is a lot of older people that we line dance with, like [it’s the] 60s and 70s. There’s a generation gap, but we just bring it all together. That’s what I like, the feeling that it enhances.”
Volunteers at the festival included Anna Scull of Playworks Philadelphia, a citywide nonprofit which engages children in physical activity during recess to promote safe and healthy play.
“There’s so many good things going on here,” Scull said. “I just love the atmosphere. Everybody is having a good time. We have adults and kids playing together having a good time. It’s awesome.”