Jenna Perez, 13, never thought spending a summer at the Catholic Club’s Summer Camp would open up an entirely new and exciting world for her.
“Because I couldn’t stay home alone, I had to go to the Catholic Club last summer. I would go there and just sleep and not talk to anyone. Then we went to the Toledo Ballet and even though I had not sung or danced before, it was so comfortable for me,” says the junior high school student.
Jenna participated in the Summer Musical Theater Program, collaboration between the Ballet and Catholic Club, funded by the Greater Toledo Community Foundation. The pilot program offered musical theater instructions to 13 boys and 13 girls. From this group, the ballet awarded three scholarships for dancers to continue lessons.
Because of her talent, Jenna was awarded a scholarship to take vocal and musical theater lessons. “I would have never had the opportunity to do this. Performing comes so naturally to me and it pushes me to work harder. It has helped me grow and now that I know what I’m doing, I’m no longer scared,” Jenna adds.
“This is just one of our programs where we work very hard to reach out to young people who may have never been exposed to dance. We don’t want dance to be exclusive but inclusive and this program helps break down barriers,” says Mari Davies, executive director of the Toledo Ballet Association.
Mari says with pride that “Jenna has such tremendous talent and interest. Her introduction to musical theater is a real success for our program and to her future no matter where her life takes her.”