Children give back by spreading holiday cheer through music

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Pitch-Perfect is what this group is determined to be for its annual Christmas caroling event - just one of the many projects from "Statement Arts", a non-profit arts education program aimed at under-served and at-risk students. Now based in Washington Heights, it was founded 12 years ago by Liza Politi.

"We just really want to empower kids because that's what they need. The kids are so extraordinary, and they have such incredible stories. There's a lot we can learn from them," says Politi.

Apparently, the kids learn a lot as well. "Statement Arts" runs several programs for students of all ages, including the "Empower Youth" project, a two-week long summer program that received a Disney grant this year. Now there is even a college prep program.

"They changed my life," said Empower Youth Project Director Zaharia Curiel.

Curiel is a former "Statement Art" student who came back to work on the staff after graduating from college.

"They just created this amazing foundation for me as an artist, and as a human being, so coming back was natural," said Curiel.

The same sense of wanting to give back is what the Christmas caroling season is all about. The students, both current and former, spend a weekend in December spreading holiday joy at places like senior centers, children's hospitals and shelters and firehouses.

"It's kind of amazing to see what one person can do - can change a few people and make them be happy and joyful inside," says Leila Fuentes.

Fuentes is one of three young sisters, busy rehearsing Christmas songs, and grateful to be part of the "Statement Art" family together.

"I like it because me and my sisters, we make new friends," Leila Fuentes adds.

"The love and passion for arts is a beautiful thing, so to introduce it to my sisters, too, it was amazing," Imani Fuentes adds.

This year's "Statement Arts" Christmas caroling event is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, December 19th and 20th at various locations around the city.
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