TCC: Building Children’s Self-esteem and Academic Achievement Through the Arts


Tylibah Iman Washington and young students


When Tylibah Iman Washington launched her non-profit youth movement Tylibah’s Creative Connection (TCC) in 2007, she had a vision to educate and motivate teens through the arts. The correlation between the arts and academic achievement is well-established.

As a classically trained dancer and vocal performer, Tylibah’s own passion for creative expression shines through in the budding organization’s agenda.

As a vetted vendor with the New York Department of Education, Tylibah’s Creative Connection has already worked with 21 schools in the city, reaching well over 5,000 students. Through TCC, schools can enjoy any of three workshops and seminars for six weeks to a full academic year.

The workshops, entitled Poetry In Motion, I Soar Forever and Leebah’s Musical Connection, all play roles in sharpening the minds of curious students.

The lessons enhance self-esteem, and young people enjoy the benefits of heightened skills in reading comprehension and ability to analyze written works.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Tylibah was fortunate in having the support of her multi-talented family as she studied dance with reputable companies like BLADE Dance Academy, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the PUSH Urban Dance Company.

She also received intense training in music, and began writing her own poetry and songs as a child. “I always embraced and understood the power of artistic expression,” Tylibah says, “and what it meant to be able to release the anxiety of being a teenager through dance, music and writing. I knew I had to be able to share this with other people on a wider scale, which is why I chose to become a professional artist and use TCC as a branch to connect the dots for others.”

“I enjoy TCC so much. My instructors always help me. I love performing and getting better with my school work,” says Shahi, a 3rd grader at TCC Bed-Sty. “My favorite part of TCC is doing poetry and music. I also like my friends here.”

Tylibah’s Creative Connection has been recognized by the New York City Council Member who represents East New York, as well as by Andre Mitchell‘s anti-violence organization Man Up, Inc.

Rather than preach to teens about what they should not be doing, Tylibah chooses to inspire through musings in poetry and song. TCC enlists board certified teachers and licensed clinicians to assist in structuring workshops that add key educational elements to promote literacy as well.

Whether or not a teen chooses to enter the arts professionally when they graduate, there is always a plus side to the discipline of writing. Tylibah recognizes that effective expression through words comes in all forms, from entertaining through poetry and song to drafting inter-office memos at a day job.

“It’s important to write every day and research your craft,” she says. “The foundation of the craft comes first before anything, and I think TCC is great place for students to hone their skills. We offer a great place to shine, which is helpful even if you don’t have aspirations of becoming a professional artist or writer.”

The organization continues to branch into other major cities. Saturday programs are being added as well.

No matter which day of the week they choose to participate, Tylibah’s Creative Connection provides students the opportunity to take a break fast-paced daily activity and breathe the fresh air of creating art through their own lives.

“TCC focuses on bringing people an educational experience that feeds both the intellectual being as well as the creative,” Tylibah says.  “We take students as they are – we don’t try and change them to fit the mold of what society says they should be. Rather, we enhance on all their positive attributes and allow them to bask in being who they really are. They are all stars in our eyes.”

To Schedule a time to have Tylibah do a special presentation at your school or organization please send an email to [email protected]

TCC currently operates in New York City and Atlanta, Ga.


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