As the buzz from Sunday nights Oscars begins to wind down, there is one small movie that’s buzz continues to grow. The Oscar-winning film, “Inocente” which won for Best Documentary Short Film. “Innocente” told the story of a homeless child named Inocente Izucar and the cause that saved her. That cause was A Reason To Survive or ARTS.
The film’s goal was to put a face on the homeless children in the United States and the fact that 1 out of 45 children in this country are homeless. These children need a reason to survive. Inocente is that face.
It was children just like Inocente that Matt D’Arrigo set out to help, when he founded ARTS in 2001. Although Matt had never been homeless, he too had a moment in his life when he needed a reason to survive. That moment was in 1992 when his mother and sister both battled cancer. Painting and music were his refuge and gave him that reason. Just as the arts helped him during one of the most difficult times of his life, Matt wanted to provide that same opportunity to other kids facing their own personal crises.
In 2001 he founded ARTS on his philosophy that the arts can heal and change lives. Matt began with an outreach program at Ronald McDonald House by bringing art to the children there. Soon, community agencies began to request ARTS services.
By 2007, that vision expanded and ARTS opened the 7,000 sq ft Pat D’Arrigo ARTS Center which includes a music room, media arts lab, performance space, ceramics studio, printmaking and mixed media studio, painting studio, and a gallery to showcase and sell the kids work.
Today, ARTS serves 5,000 San Diego youth ages 3-22 from more than 42 partner organizations such as hospitals, foster care agencies, schools, homeless and domestic violence shelters.
As Matt D’Arrigo said, “We are here not only to heal these young lives through the arts, but to also inspire and empower them to overcome obstacles and thrive in this world – to become compassionate, creative human beings who make a difference not only in themselves, but in the world they live in.”
Innocente did just that as she stood on the Academy’s stage Sunday night. A year ago she was homeless and today, she has a home, an Oscar award-winning movie about her life and A Reason To Survive.
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