Palmetto High school senior Anaïs Roatta is involved with Lotus Arts for Change, which was started in the fall of 2018.
Roatta and a group of friends had all gone to piano together when they were little. They decided they wanted to get involved in something so they set up Arts for Change.
“We wanted to get involved because we thought it was a fun idea,” she says. “I love art and I love teaching.”
Roatta has been teaching art for five years as a counselor. Her partner is Yamaha Certified.
“We thought it might be a good idea to teach music and art at the Lotus House Women’s shelter,” she says. “We started over the summer getting things together. We wanted to start as a small thing.”
By 2019 the group had 30 people volunteering in both piano and art.
“For music, we get older people who had taken piano in the past,” she says, “who want to relive what they had in the past.”
The teens loved going to Lotus House to teach the children.
“It’s fun to see these kids,” she says. “Everyone loves art. Everyone loves music.”
The program was successful but had to stop because of the coronavirus. So the teens switched their volunteering to collection drives. They collected things the people in the shelter can use, like coloring books, gift cards for the staff, uniforms, art supplies, back to school supplies, back packs, masks and hand sanitizers.
Roatta set up a collection box outside of her house and spread the word on social media.
When items were retrieved, she put on her gloves and sprayed everything down. They took the supplies to Lotus House during the summer and plan more collections.
At school, she is on the board of Students Demand Action, under the Social Studies Honor Society.
“I did start a letter writing campaign my freshman year, right after the shooting at Margery Stoneman Douglas,” she says. “The letters were to legislators. The legislators who were not willing to vote against the large magazine.”
More than 100 students each wrote one letter telling them that they needed to vote and make schools safer.
“I don’t know if it did any good, but I needed it and other students need to do it,” she says.
“We were all feeling helpless at that time.”
Roatta runs cross-country and track for Palmetto. Her track events are the two-mile, the one-mile and the 800-meter.
She’s also historian of the French Honor Society.
Outside of Palmetto, her freshman year she was the coordinator of speakers and food for a Youth Leadership Summit on Gun Violence.
“I had to coordinate food trucks and who was going to be speaking at the event,” she says.
She was involved again in the fall of 2019, where the event drew more than 200 people to learn about Global Warming.
For college, Roatta wants to major in Public Health. Brown University and New York University top her list.
“I’ve been wanting to do Public Health for a long time,” she says.
She had an internship lined up with the University of Miami Sylvester Vehicle, the unit that does cancer screenings in areas like Little Haiti. But COVID-19 squashed those summer plans.
She participated in a program at Georgetown on International Relations that led her to conclude that science and public health are the areas she wants to study.
Last year she did do an internship at the UM on Environmental Engineering.
“I can use that experience in medicine,” she says.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld