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Meet the 11-Year-Old Girl Behind the Nonprofit HeARTS of Maya

Dallas’s own Maya Delgado is an aspiring performer using her voice to help North Texas kids pursue their creative dreams

Maya Delgado is a triple threat. At 11 years old, she’s a singer, an actress and a philanthropist. Through her nonprofit organization, HeARTS of Maya, the aspiring performer has empowered kids across North Texas to chase their own creative dreams. Since its founding in November 2016, HeARTS of Maya has raised nearly $20,000 for scholarships that provide kids ages 9–17 the opportunity to enroll in music, acting and dance classes. On the cusp of the organization’s two-year anniversary, Maya sounds off on why the arts are so important for us all.

What inspired you to establish HeARTS of Maya?
It’s always been a part of me. I love performing, sharing creativity and making people have fun and enjoy themselves. I’ve trained in voice, dance and acting for a few years and remembered that sometimes my friends couldn’t take a class with me because it was too expensive. I asked my parents what I could do, and that’s when HeARTS of Maya started—not just to help my friends but to support all the kids out there who are so talented and deserve the training.

How many kids have you reached?
So far, we’ve provided scholarships to 24 kids in Dallas-Fort Worth. Hopefully, we’ll be able to help kids all over the country one day. We’ve also reached local families by partnering with North Texas Food Bank to organize can drives and led toy drives benefiting The Family Place.

What other organizations have you partnered with?
I live in University Park, so many local businesses have supported us. We’ve been the recipient of give-back events hosted by Swoozies, California Pizza Kitchen, Kendra Scott and Dear Clark Hair Studio. HeARTS of Maya also provided entertainment for The Warren Center and performed at Family Gateway’s Day to Play event earlier this year. We’re partnering with them both again for a toy drive and more performances.

Your debut album, “Shades of You,” is named after a song you wrote for The Warren Center. Is music your favorite form of creative expression?
Every art form is different, but it’s the same chance to share your message. With acting, I could portray a character that means something to me, and with dance, I could move to express what’s important to me. But writing and performing music are really special to me. The song “Shades of You” is about being yourself and who you want to be. It’s available on iTunes, and all proceeds go toward giving scholarships to more students.

What does creativity mean to you, and why is it so important for kids to be able to express themselves through art?
I believe that you learn through creativity. When my little brother, Marco, was in preschool, his class would sing songs and reenact things, which could be considered acting. That’s how he grew his mind. Creativity can be found everywhere. People think “art” and think only certain things. But art doesn’t have to be a painting! It’s expressing yourself and sharing your feelings.

How can the community get involved?
A contribution would be so appreciated! Also, if you join the HeARTS of Maya mailing list, you’ll get notifications for all of our upcoming events. They’re family-friendly and fun ways to support our scholarships. For instance, at our Kendra Scott event, you were able to make a pretty necklace for yourself while helping kids pursue their dreams.

Can you share any fun upcoming events?
Around the holidays, we’re hopefully going to have a performance with all the HeARTS of Maya kids, which would allow them to showcase their talents and what they’ve been working on in the classes that we’ve scholarshipped. It’s a dream of mine to do a big show together!

What does the future of HeARTS of Maya look like to you?
I hope to provide scholarships to more kids and, hopefully, be able to pay for their tuition to a performing arts college. I’m only 11 and have never been to college, but I think that education is very important. I would love to help kids across the country, see HeARTS grow bigger and help more and more and more!

And what does your future look like?
My dream is to be in New York City and do musical theater. I would love to go to Juilliard—I already have my apartment picked out right across the street! With musical theater, being in the audience and seeing everything live makes me feel connected to what the character is feeling, and I want to make someone else feel that.

When you sell out stadiums, star in hit movies and are on the cover of magazines, what do you want the first line in your biography to be?
I want it to be, “Maya Delgado is inspiring other kids.” That is what’s important to me. I want to share joy and make people smile and feel good about themselves.