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Youth Arts spotlight: Coyote Central

Did you know on the corner of 23rd Ave. and E. Cherry St., students can learn to weld, breakdance, cook, sew, animate and build chairs? It’s true — middle schoolers can do all this (and more!) at Coyote Central.

coyote2Since 1986, Coyote Central has been dedicated to providing a wide range of creative problem-solving to 10-15 year olds, a crucial age in development. In 2011, they moved into a new space at the corner of 23rd Ave. and E. Cherry St., where they now have a welding studio, a woodshop, a professional kitchen, and various other workshop spaces for any number of imaginable activities under the sun (or, rain, as we’re in Seattle).

I got to tour the space and talk with Claudia Stelle, the Executive Director, and Marybeth Satterlee, one of the founders and the Program Director about the work of Coyote and its impact. The day I visited, a breakdancing class was practicing, sewing machines were set up, laptops were primed for animation courses, Sawhorse Revolution was building a new outdoor metalworking area, and students were cleaning up from the day’s projects in the kitchen. Young people were all around, ready to learn, and very engaged with the various activities happening that day at Coyote.

Claudia remarks, “Middle school is an age where it’s good to try out a lot of different things,” and views Coyote as a place where students can develop their passions early. The hands-on atmosphere means that students get to try different disciplines at a time of self-development and the beginning of understanding their place in the larger world.

This summer, Coyote is providing over 130 courses, for which over 900 kids have signed up, including “Bikes: Beaters to Custom,” “Magic Performance,” “Video Game Development,” and “Welding + Forging.” The wide array of classes allows students to try out different skills and tools and modes of creative expression. Classes do have a cost associated, but Coyote works with any family’s budget to make sure that every youth can take part.

coyote1Hosting classes is not all that they do! Their Hit the Streets public art program, started in 1992, creates opportunities for students to create public art all over Seattle, including, city parks and recreation areas, viewpoints, and community centers. Coyote Central also partners with the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative in a program called CoyoteWorks, where students earn a stipend in exchange for learning skills like cooking and woodworking and putting those skills to work serving their community.

As I was leaving my tour of Coyote Central, I found myself thinking, “I wish I had something like this when I was growing up.” I even wish I had something like it now. From Coyote’s great workshop spaces to their focus on middle school age kids, to the diversity of students and teachers, their work is really teaching important skills to youth, and connecting students with the city of Seattle in fruitful, generative ways.

-Annie Holden, public relations specialist. Photos by Annie Holden, top to bottom: Welding masks in the metalworking studio, costumes created by students in an art and fashion design class.  

Coyote Central is one of the Office of Arts & Culture’s 2015 Youth Arts grant recipients. Youth Arts is an annual funding program that makes a difference in the lives of Seattle middle and high school youth by providing arts education beyond the regular school day in neighborhoods throughout the city. To find more out about this program, check out our website.