As more and more young people infected with – or affected by – HIV/AIDS approach adulthood, new programs are needed to offer support, mentorship, career options, and professional opportunities for success.
That is why we created Camp Hollywood HEART in Malibu, California. Since 2008, this week-long interactive arts experience has given youth impacted by HIV/AIDS the opportunity to explore one of seven arts disciplines: acting, creative writing, culinary arts, documentary filmmaking, fashion, music, and visual arts.
Led by experienced artists and mentors, participants ages 15-20 enjoy comprehensive instruction and training in their chosen art, steering them in the right direction for pursuing their creative passions. The teens are given the opportunity to interact positively with arts professionals and one another as they explore their creativity and receive both personal and career-centered insight. The camp culminates with a live gala performance, empowering our young artists to showcase their creativity and artistic vision before the entire camp community. The opportunity to celebrate each other’s talents is an experience that brings smiles, pride, and confidence to the participants for years to come.
The campers also get to choose exciting elective programming such as comic book artistry, fashion design, culinary arts, stunt choreography, and photography, providing campers with a well-rounded experience beyond their initial focus. In addition to electives and focused workshops, camp provides a variety of fun, enlightening experiences ranging from performances by well-known entertainers to beach time, sports, and games. The Career/Info Fair is our newest addition to camp where college counselors and working professionals offer guidance, direction, and resource packets on how to attend college and/or further professional development. The week at CHH allows participants to understand the responsibilities of adulthood and build self-esteem in a trusted, caring, and fun environment.
We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our youth illustrating the value of this program. One former camper noted that she now has arts and crafts fairs on the weekends, another received a scholarship to Northern Arizona University, thanks in part to films she created at camp over the years, and another now cooks with plant-based foods to combat the side effects of her HIV/AIDS medications.