HARRIS COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) – Finding a home in Harris County is the Experiential Arts Center, an after-school program for students who love the arts.

“There’s not a lot of after-school or in-school classes that offer things like cooking, sewing, or sign-language, so it was really important for us to offer these fine arts,” Director of the Experiential Arts Center Dawn Hiers said.

Hiers says there are plenty of places for athletes in Harris County, but says fine arts are just as important. 

“Studies have shown that students learn more and do better in school, if they have these classes offered as well,” Hiers said.

The center operates as an after-school program for grades 1st through 12th, offering a wide range of classes, from music to marketing, to guitar and gardening, and many in between, all infused with leadership lessons as well.

“Our real purpose when we formed our advisory committee, we said we really want to influence kids with character and leadership, good values, and serving other people,” Executive Director of FOCUS Ministries Kathy Carlisle said.

Carlisle says incorporating character lessons within fine arts classes is the long-term plan when it comes to developing the next generation in Harris County.

“These students, we really see that they’ll come back when they’re adults, and they’ll influence other kids in the community, and come back and made a difference, we just kind of saw it long-term, that if we can influence kids now, this will be the next generation coming back to influence Harris County,” Carlisle said.

In addition to building leadership, the center hopes to build confidence as well, and Hiers says she’s already seen this in real time.

“I was surprised at how emotional it was to watch these kids go into drama class and were scared to talk to people, get up on that stage and perform,” Hiers said.

Going into their fourth semester, classes are open now for the Fall.

For information on how to sign up for the after school program and how you can volunteer, visit www.eacfocus.org/