Thanks to a Youth Arts Initiative, any child who utilizes an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can attend a free after-school program based in the arts at the Cooper Center for Creative Arts. Classes include dance, music, theatre and art options.

"Obviously we're big believers in the power of the arts," says Artistic Director Jayc DeMaranville. "How the arts can teach and what the arts can teach and how those skills, in particular if learned at an early age, how those skills can be transferable to other aspects of life."

The children are taught in peer groups with the classes offered rotating throughout the week. There is even the opportunity for private music lessons. DeMaranville said the commitment was made about two years ago to offer these classes for free, "If your priority is speech therapy or physical therapy or occupational therapy or equestrian, those are your priority for your children and where your money goes. So we thought as an organization that the best way we could help would be to offer these classes at no cost."

Funding for the classes comes from the Guthrie Family Foundation, the Wyoming Arts Council and Ark Regional Services. Creative Arts Coordinator Cheyenne Christian says that any parent who has a child that uses an IEP can call the Cooper Center at (307)399-9513 for more information about the classes.

"Giving these kids a chance to be themselves in a typical classroom environment  and allowing them to be who they are without instruction or assistance always by their side and giving them that authentic dance class opportunity or art class opportunity is awesome," said Christian.

DeMaranville echoed Christian's sentiment while reflecting on the necessity of the classes, "Some kids aren't going to be successful in a typical dance class or reading class or art class. Regardless of the fantastic support that the school district provides for those children, once they're trying to mainstream into a typical class, they're may be struggles. So I think the beautiful thing is, we can take this universal language of art and say, 'regardless of your ability, or perceived ability or emotional distress you might have or behavior you might exhibit, we're going to provide you with an authentic arts experience."