Children benefit from expressing their creativity and art programs for children are life-changing. An art program is often the healing glue that mends a child’s fractured life when everything else seems to be falling apart. Ultimately it helps society as a whole. When children are taught creativity skills their confidence grows and their ability to excel in other educational areas. These life-changing art programs steer many at-risk children away from harming themselves and others.
This article refers to four art programs for children. I invite you also to visit our Resource Directory and you’ll find many more.
I know firsthand how art lessons can have a positive and lasting impact. As a teenager I gave art lessons to neighborhood children and I continued my love for teaching art to children as a professional artist. Several years later, I encountered one of those students when she was in college. She confided that she was a rebellious child and in my art classes she felt calmer, learned “how to see”, solve problems from different angles, and increase her aptitude to excel in other subjects.
Creativity Improves Brain Function
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ~ Albert Einstein
As a writer and arts advocate I’ve become aware of the plethora of scientific studies that reveal how creativity improves brain function. For instance Eric Jensen, one of the leading translators in the world of neuroscience into education, refers to this fact in his book Arts with the Brain in Mind, “The systems they nourish, which include our integrated sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities, are, in fact, the driving forces behind all other learning.”
Creativity is the application of the imagination. It has the ability to transform traditional ideas, patterns, and relationships into new and improved methods, forms and interpretations. In the brilliant words of Albert Einstein: “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
Collaboration Among Art, Science and Education
Artists, scientists and educators are joining forces to interpret and apply our ever-expanding knowledge about how the creative arts impact the brain. This type of synergy brings hope to our youth.
For example, medical scans have revealed the parts of the brain responsible for controlling impulses, and setting future goals are among the last to mature. That explains the destructive behavior of many adolescents. It has been shown that creative art programs encourage productivity and self-worth and have the potential to divert them from a life headed toward criminal behavior and self-destruction.
Four Life-Changing Art Programs
Inner-City Arts, www.inner-cityarts.org, located in Los Angeles, California is a leader in this direction. “An oasis of learning, achievement and creativity” it resides in the heart of Skid Row. Its Education, Arts and Social-Emotional Learning (EASEL) Program teaches administrators how to “bridge arts instruction with other core content areas through a lens of social-emotional learning and brain-based research.”
Transforming the lives of young at-risk kids through creativity is Art Start, www.art-start.org. This award-winning organization began in 1991 when a group of artists got together with homeless kids to make art in New York City. The children they serve live in city shelters or on the streets, or live with parents in crisis. In daily creative arts workshops local artists donate their time to nurture the talents of these young individuals.
Another life-changing art program was started Adarsh Alphons, an artist who was born in India and lives in New York City. In 2011, while art programs were being slashed in public schools he launched ProjectArt http://projectart.org in Harlem. ProjectArt brings art classes to public libraries located near schools where art is not taught. Both emerging artists and college students teach art classes to these children.
Leading the way in arts education since 1977 is Studio in A School www.studioinaschool.org/, founded by Agnes Gund, philanthropist and President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art. This non-profit has enriched the lives of more than 850,000 children in New York City’s five boroughs with the visual arts. It brings professional artists into schools and community organizations to lead classes in a range of mediums. The instructors work with teachers to link art with other academic subjects.
This organization hires only professional artists because, “Working artists are particularly suited for teaching art, not only because they have extensive knowledge of the history and culture of art and strong technical skills, but also because they are able to model an artist’s way of thinking and working.”
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
~ Nelson Mandella
We Can Make A Difference
Ann P. Kahn, Former President of The National PTA, and staunch advocate of arts education wrote, “The creative arts are the measure and reflection of our civilization. They offer many children the 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.”
Nelson Mandella proclaimed, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” We can apply his guiding principle to become advocates for arts education. We can teach art to children where there is a void. We can encourage creative collaboration between the arts, science and education. We can support organizations that strive to heal the whole child through heart-felt innovative programs. Our actions can lead us to a healthier society.
Visit Our Resource Directory of Art Programs
More than 100 Organizations
We have compiled a resource directory of organizations that provide services that integrate art as a healing component. You’ll find a wide variety of organizations here.
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