More than two dozen children and teens from across Sussex County performed short plays and showed off their artwork in Georgetown last week.

More than two dozen children and teens from across Sussex County performed short plays and showed off their artwork in Georgetown last week.

First State Community Action Agency on North Railroad Avenue hosted the showcase, which featured works by children from six area community centers.

“All of the children are enrolled in community-based programs that are the result of a partnership between our agency, the Rehoboth Summer Children’s Theatre and the Rehoboth Art League,” explained Bernice Edwards, the executive director of First State Community Action Agency. “Each of the programs allows the kids to express themselves and their feelings in a culturally-diverse environment that allows them to learn about each other while having a lot of fun.”

Friday’s event began with 10-minute performances of “Alice In Wonderland” and “Stone Soup.” The two groups of young actors and actresses who starred in the plays practiced their productions throughout the week under the tutelage of Karen Murdock, the director of the Summer Camp Theatre program.

“What we’re doing with these children is more than just learning theatrical skills – it’s life skills they can take with them wherever they go,” she said. “They learn to communicate effectively, listen, work together and collaborate as a team, which are all important components to acting.”

The artwork displayed after the theater productions was prepared by children at a variety of after-school programs with help from clinical art therapist Jennifer August.

“We used these images to help promote personal development and positive social outcomes,” August said. “We also used the art projects to help reinforce the state’s core math and science curriculum.”

Diana Beebe, president of the Rehoboth Art League’s board of directors said the after-school and summer programs, are intended to benefit the children on multiple fronts.

“These programs are a great place for them to go where they can be with adults who care for them and keep them engaged in a healthy and productive activity,” she said. “They give the children something to express that is productive, creative and positive in an environment where they don’t feel the same pressure as they do preparing for a test. At the same time, studies show that kids involved in art do better in academics.”

Several of the children who showed off their efforts on Friday said they loved being a part of the programs.

“I created artwork that shows my name because I think it’s kind of unique,” said Freeman Jackson, a 13-year-old Bridgeville resident who attends Coverdale Crossroads Community Center. “I like doing this stuff because we can just have fun and be ourselves.”

Rachel Brown, a 16-year-old Bridgeville resident who also attends Coverdale Crossroads, said being involved in art programs there have helped her immensely.

“It helps me with my attitude and keeps me out of trouble,” she said.

The artwork and theater performances on display Friday were the product of programs offered at West Side New Beginnings in Rehoboth, Coolsprings Community Center near Milton, Coverdale Crossroads Community Center in Bridgeville, First State after-school programs in Georgetown and the Georgetown Boys & Girls Club.