Nine-Year-Old Shares Access to the Arts

Maya Delgado is a triple-threat talent with professional training in voice, stage presence, and choreography. And while she feels she was born to entertain, the nine-year-old says her dream is “helping others find the art in their hearts.”

That dream came true with the HeARTS of Maya’s first youth talent showcase in May. Delgado, with help from family and friends, started the nonprofit to provide year-long scholarships for kids ages nine to 17 who share her love for the arts and are in need of financial assistance.

Delgado has trained with professionals in the entertainment industry and has had the opportunity to showcase her talent at several venues, including the American Airlines Center and Winspear Opera House. These experiences have molded the passion that she has for the performing arts. But the young artist saw that talent, passion, and financial resources don’t always come as a packaged deal. So, she chose to take action.

“My parents have always told me to help others,” said Delgado. “When I saw the kids that couldn’t afford to go to music classes, I saw it as my chance to help others. I went to my mom and dad and I said that I wanted to do a foundation.”

Since its founding in January, HeARTS of Maya has funded 10 young artists, thanks to contributions and donations. All money goes directly to providing kids with the finances to participate in upcoming summer camps and train with professionals like Dallas’ Chris Ann Seay, children’s casting director for Hasbro.

Recipients also engage with speakers in the industry who inspire them to pursue their dreams. Parents are invited to attend these sessions to prepare their children for the ups and downs of the entertainment business. At the end of their scholarship period, the young artists will have the opportunity to present their “HeARTS” in an annual showcase that they coordinate.

“That’s what this is about. Not only being able to help them provide for this training, but really giving them that leadership role and letting them design what it is they want to do for their performances,” said Monica Ochoa, Delgado’s mother.

Along with a Board of Directors, Hearts of Maya also boasts a Youth Advisory Board, which evaluates applicants and determines who should be awarded scholarships. All members are between the ages of nine and 17 and hand-picked by Delgado to reinforce the goals she has set for her organization. Advisory members include Skylar Smith, daughter of Pat and Emmitt Smith, Grant Knoche of Kidz Bop fame, and national debate champion Austin Lux.

“I think every kid has a voice, not just the voice that you sing with, but a voice to speak up,” Delgado said. “This just means a lot to me, and the fact that kids are basically running this foundation is very powerful and special.”

Lux said that he’s always admired Delgado’s tenacity, calling her a “little dynamo.” So when she asked the 17-year-old to be a part of HeARTS of Maya, he did not hesitate to respond.

The arts have been in Lux’s life for over a decade. He’s voiced Linus in Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, and he’s worked with musical icons, such as Harry Connick, Jr. HeARTS of Maya is an opportunity for him to give back all that he’s been given, he said.

“The goals of HeARTS of Maya are the goals that we all should stand for: lifting those around us up,” Lux said. “I want to help Maya change the world. If not us, who? If not now, when?”

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