by Jo Hughes

LAYAYA in our Community

LAYAYA serves our community through the arts and civic engagement!

At LAYAYA we know that the best way to CREATE a better future for all is to give our time and energy to invest in our community! Through the years we have worked to identify needs in our community and to help fill those needs while fostering community engagement in the youth that we serve.  "Art with Heart"  is the community service element to LAYAYA. Using our time, talents and energy to help others is a big part of the LAYAYA experience.  Below are a few of our ART with HEART projects.  Below are just a few of our LAYAYA Art with Heart projects. 

LAYAYA Project Blue
Layaya youth raised funds to purchase  20 life saving Belt Trauma Tactical Kits for our law enforcement officers.  We distributed the kits to Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Department and Louisiana State Police.  These kits are designed to assist our officers in the event of a major injury (such as gunshot wounds) and the tourniquets are designed so that an officer can apply it one handed in the event that this is needed in the field. The cost of each kit was $112 and the youth of LAYAYA exceeded their goal to provide at least 12 kits. They raised funds by doing chores/jobs such as cutting grass and babysitting in addition to selling their artwork.  

In Decemeber 2019, Chevron Oronite sponsored equipment for our new STEAM Lab & STEAM Workshop at LAYAYA Imaginarium Studios.  Phillips 66 pitched in $1000 on the STEAM Lab and we were all set to kick off our STEAM programing in March 2020. 
Little did we know at the time what a big part our little STEAM Lab  would play in our community response to the COVID-19 crisis!  We were able to design  and 3D print professional use masks, face shields, filter covers and ear guards for those working on the front lines at a time when PPE was not available. LAYAYA artists worked around the clock - 7 days a week to make and distribute the needed supplies to 120 first responders, law enforcement and medical staff  in the early months of the Covid crisis.  The design of our 2 part 3D printed masks were recognized and positively reviewed by FDA as an important safety feature in the Covid crisis.  This experience has been another confirmation that the critical thinking and problem solving skills that come with art education are vital to the growth and survival of our community!  


Nature inspires more than art! LAYAYA has worked to improve our environment in many ways since 2013. Whether we are planting cypress trees in the marsh to assist growth of our wetlands or doing a nature "clean up" along the levees or in our state and local parks - we know how important it is to give back to nature and our community through these projects. With so many young people spending less time outdoors, we also know that it is important to foster an appreciate for the benefits of being in nature. Developing a love for the outdoors is important to mental and physical health and helps future generations understand that we are fortunate to live in a place that has a bounty of natural resources that deserve to be protected through community service.       

Community Gardening and Education

LAYAYA has provided outdoor art and gardening signs for the YMCA Community Garden as well as other community gardens in the area. In addition to the artwork, the LAYAYA youth have been happy to roll up their sleeves and dig into projects where they can learn about planting, growing and harvesting a garden.  The LAYAYA Culinary Arts Department grows many of their own herbs and is in the process of expanding the program by planting a community garden at the LAYAYA Imaginarium for spring/summer 2021!