Tuition-free choir program provides opportunities for underserved Houston community

Mayra Moreno Image
Friday, September 1, 2023
Back to school: East End choir program helps underprivileged Houston ISD students and parents
After the TEA takeover of HISD, after-school programs are needed more than ever. A bilingual choir program gives a creative outlet for underserved HISD students.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Teresa Llovet loves to sing, but she never felt confident doing so up until recently.

"When I started, I was nervous. I really didn't know anyone," Teresa said.

"We are triple what we were last year in terms of children being served," Jorge Garza, founder of Segundo Barrio Children's Chorus said.

Garza said he created the program for kids just like Teresa in a neighborhood that is greatly underserved.

With just a year under its belt, the choir has performed all over the city making an imprint and putting the spotlight on the children of the East End.

"All of our programming is tuition-free so that really eliminates one of the major barriers to have access to the arts for children and families," Garza said.

And now with the TEA takeover of HISD, after school programs like these are needed more than ever.

"The fact that the programs at the schools were taken away, that's very discerning for me," Teresa's mom said. "A lot of parents rely on these extra things for their children to do for them. It's their outlet, their stress relief, their ability to grow individual arts, all of that is now being taken away from them when HISD takes away these programs."

"I think there is a lot of insecurity. I think most parents are unhappy to say the least that programs that weren't that well-supported in the past possibly seem to be eliminated especially in the arts," Garza said.

Garza believes they are now bridging the gap and giving these parents and students a creative outlet that was never there before.

"I feel very excited because I get to show other people you can do this. You don't have to be afraid of what you can do," Teresa said.

For some of these children, this is their first time singing in Spanish, embracing a side of their culture that gives their parents a sense of joy and pride.

"My husband, he's not from here either. He's from Honduras," Teresa's mom said. "To see her speaking her native language, it's so beautiful for him to experience that and share it with his family."

ABC13 reached out to HISD several times over the last few weeks to get a comment on programs that have been put on hold but have yet to get a full statement or answer.

To learn more about the choir, you can visit their website.

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