On May 12, up to 90 youngsters ages 6 to 13 will rotate through workshops led by regional artists in cartooning, drama, poetry, pottery, eco-sculpture and music during a Children’s Day of Art in Morristown, New Jersey. They’ll have a chance to dabble in some edible art with Chef Melody of The Main Event during lunch, and the day will end with a reception for the young artists, their parents and the instructors.
Fifteen years ago, taking note of a lack of art in our neighborhood, we launched Grace Art Camp. It has grown into a thriving seven-week art program, telling stories from cultures around the world and teaching local children to engage these stories through various art forms.
In 2010, Grace Art Camp stumbled upon a new vision. As students engaged Caribbean stories through art – including crafting little glass rings – the people of Haiti were in need. These tandem stories of Caribbean art in Portland and need in Haiti sparked Mother Esme’s imagination. “Grace Art Camp,” she thought, “is ready to move out into the cultures it embraced s each year and create relationships.” So, Grace Art Camp sold those little glass rings, raising $11,500 to help our friends in Haiti.
We knew this connection with the cultures we embraced needed to continue. So, in preparation for 2011’s camp, Tales of the Serengeti, we decided to partner with Grace and Paul Kuto, who have been working in Kenya for over 30 years, to build a community center in Chwele village. We also connected with the Duraja Academy, a school for Kenyan girls from war torn situations. Specifically, we connected with a girl named Naomi who dreams of becoming a lawyer because she “believes in justice for all people.”
During 2011’s seven-week art camp, we made and sold rafiki (friendship) bracelets, raising $7,500 which we split between the Chwele village community center and Naomi’s tuition at the Duraja academy. However, we wanted to go beyond simply raising and sending money; we wanted real connections! So we decided to engage in a letter-writing and art exchange with our new friends in Kenya.
These programs are a great way to connect with the neighborhood children near your church as well as offering the arts to kids.
h/t to Elizabeth Kaeton