As many of you know, I volunteer-teach art journaling to at-risk elementary school children. And though I’m not a non-profit (yet) and the project is grassroots and on a smaller scale, it makes a big difference in the lives of my students. There is absolutely no money for art supplies (the class didn’t even have scissors to use before my first visit to the classroom) so this supplemental program made a huge difference in the educational and artistic experience of over 32 children.
A Brief Overview
I gather donations and supplies in the fall, and provide each student with a blank journal and a packet of art supplies when I first visit the class. I teach the children art journaling in the early part of their school year, and then return to the class during the last month of school for an art journal show – to see what they’ve created and to celebrate their artistic accomplishments.
A FANTASTIC Art Journal Show!
As with past years, this year’s art journal show was a huge success. The kids were so proud and excited to share, and they’d all done wonderful work in their journals! Parents, other classes, teachers, and school administrators attended the show, and at the end of the day I awarded each student a Certificate of Achievement for their participation in the art journaling program.
I’m including some photos from our May 13th art show in this post, but never share photos that show the children’s faces for their privacy and safety, so please imagine a class full of happy and excited 10 and 11 year-olds!
I’d like to send out an enormous thanks to all those who donated supplies and funds for this year’s class. I thank you, the classroom teacher I worked with thanks you, and the children thank you. In fact, I heard dozens and dozens of thank you’s from the children – both in person and in thank you letters. Here are a few excerpts from letters I received from my students:
“Thank you for donating the art journal. I think it is lots of fun. I can spill my feelings into it. I like all the art supplies. I like the art journal because I can be creative and passionate.”
“Can you tell every person who donated thank you?”
“Thanks for showing us how to do real art! I thought art was only drawing but you showed us all another type of art. I have never thought a book can help that much.”
“I enjoyed the art experience and the art journals and I would like to thank the people that made it happen.”
“I will do art journaling for the rest of my life.”
Why I Do This…
My mission is to provide as many children as I can with art journaling instruction and supplies. Not only does this program nurture their creativity and provide art instruction that would otherwise be missing because of curriculum and budget constraints, art journaling also helps get the children excited about their overall educational experience.
And, perhaps most importantly, art journaling gives the children a constructive way to express themselves and process the world around them. This is particularly important to at-risk students, who are often facing the effects of poverty, abuse, neglect, exposure to gangs and drugs, and absent parents.
I, too, faced many challenges when I was a child, including poverty and abuse, and know from experience that creative self-expression can be a lifesaver. I know that a trustworthy adult taking a special interest in you can make a big impression, and that a proverbial pat on the back can really boost one’s self-esteem. I know that art and writing have the power to strengthen, nourish, and heal, and hope to plant a love for art journaling and creative self-expression in the lives of as many children as I can.
I’m already planning my 2011-2012 class, and would love to expand my program to teach two classrooms full of students: one at my existing school in San Bernardino County, and one closer to home – preferably in Santa Ana, CA. If you’d like to help these at-risk elementary students, please consider donating funds, gift cards, or supplies. Gift cards to places like Michaels, Office Max, and Target are most helpful.
You may also donate physical supplies in quantities of 45 (like scissors, glue sticks, 8-color packs of crayons, etc.) or items from your art supply stash that can go into a “mush pot”. Please email me via this website’s contact page if you have questions and/or would like to donate. Even a $5 donation makes a big difference in the lives of these children, and I thank you for your consideration.
In closing, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the artistic accomplishments of this year’s students. They did great work, and everyone gets an “A” for effort and enthusiasm!