Helping our youth through art programs may be one of the most important steps we can take as individuals and as a society. Art is a valuable tool for discovering, exploring and interpreting reality. Investing in children’s art programs not only exposes the students to the benefits of the arts, they help these children succeed in all school subjects and in life.
As Nelson Mandella stated, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Art activities offer many ways to accomplish this.
Creative Memories Last A Lifetime
For a moment try to recall a creative experience in your childhood that involved producing art. It was probably filled with wonder, possibility, and anticipation. It awakened all of your senses. The sheer delight you felt when you opened your first box of crayons. The full spectrum of colors with endless possibilities… The feel and smell of the waxy sticks as you peeled back the paper… Your first finger paint experience and the giddy sensation of having paint ooze through your fingers onto the smooth, shiny paper… Can you remember the first monumental structure you created by interlocking your Lego pieces? Or the pride of having your art on public view when your parents came to visit the school?
These visceral, joyful artistic memories can last a lifetime. Most importantly for many of us, they may have been the healing glue that mended us when everything else in our lives seemed to be falling apart. They also taught us pride, self-esteem and problem-solving skills.
The Arts Instill Values
Ann P. Kahn, Former President of The National PTA once said, “The creative arts are the measure and reflection of our civilization. They offer many children an opportunity to see life with a larger perspective… The moral values we treasure are reflected in the beauty and truth that is emotionally transmitted through the arts. The arts say something about us to future generations.”
The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS Resource Directory of Art & Healing Organizations provides nearly 100 nonprofit organizations. Many of them help children. Here are two of them.
Art Start ~ Transforming Young At-Risk Lives
In the Spring of 1991, a handful of artists got together with homeless kids to make art in New York City. Over the past twenty years, Art Start has become “an award-winning, nationally recognized model for using the creative arts to transform young, at-risk lives. Art Start kids live in city shelters, on the streets, are involved in court cases, or surviving with parents in crisis. Through Art Start’s daily creative arts workshops taking place inside some of the city’s loneliest places, at-risk youth collaborate with local teaching artists and educators who donate their time and guidance to nurture the youth’s creativity and talents.”
Art Feeds “All Children Are Artists”
Art Feeds artfeeds.org that declares: “We believe all children are artists.” As part of its mission statement the organization states: “We exist to feed creative development and facilitate emotional expression in children through art and community. To do this, we provide free therapeutic art and creative education programs within schools & children’s organizations by mobilizing teams of community members to bring all forms of art into classrooms.” Art Feeds offers internships. Check the website for details.
Learning Through Art Program
“Learning Through Art” (LTA) at the Guggenheim Museum, in New York, NY, is an art program for children that challenges students to think critically about art and ideas. Participating students examine, discuss, and create works of art which increases their knowledge and education overall. Groups of students are also taken to the Guggenheim Museum to view and discuss the exhibitions. Every year the residency culminates with an exhibition of selected student works at the Guggenheim Museum. Through these exhibitions the children are able to learn how to appreciate their own talent as well as the work of their fellow students. Read an article about this program.
More on The Subject of Art Programs For Children
The organizations’ websites offer ideas that will inspire you to help including making donations.
It was Carl Jung who reminds us, “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”
We celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Let’s declare today and every day National Children’s Day. Because, as Henry Ward Beecher reminds us, “Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.” Heaven on earth can be experienced when we nurture the unique innate creative spirit that dwells in every child.
What art activity can you do today with a child that will create life-long memories, expand their confidence and awareness about themselves and the world they live in?
Visit the Art & Healing Organization Resource Directory that contains more than 100 nonprofit organizations.