This year marks 25 years for the Hilltop Artists Program in Tacoma. It's a nonprofit that started in 1994, co-founded by Dale Chihuly, as an opportunity for young kids on the Hilltop to have access to art.
It's a program that started with a handful of kids who got a chance to play around with glass bottle. Now it's a robust program with 650 students across Tacoma with access to a full glass blowing studio.
"I like that you can be very creative with it and you can basically make whatever you want. You just need the skills to make it," said 8th grader Aidan Rosa, who has been in the program for two years.
"I found out in elementary and I was like, 'Oh my gosh I want to do this when I'm in middle school,'" said Myles Johnson, a 7th grader who has made almost anything you can think of out of glass.
"I made a carton of milk. I really like drinking milk so I filled up a whole glass carton of milk and drank it," said Johnson.
Behind the fun are lessons.
"It's just really fun figuring out how you're going to do it. It's like, 'Oh how am I going to make a carton of milk,' and then you think through it and then you figure it out," he said.
"Glass blowing is one of those things that you can't do by yourself," said Kimberly Keith, executive director of Hilltop Artists. "Our students here are learning verbal communication, non-verbal communication, all kinds of team building skills while they're learning how to make glass. Those soft skills are what's really important."
Keith attended Jason Lee Middle School and said she sees herself in the young people that she works with in the program.
"They've experienced trauma. They've experienced neglect. They've experienced lots of negative things, so we need a positive place for them to come to work with adults who genuinely care about their thoughts and their opinions," said Keith.
The program is free for students. This year it has raised $25,000 in hopes of getting public funding to match and continue to serve young people.