When is a colored pencil so much more than a drawing tool? NOW! Research shows that art not only offers a creative outlet for children, but importantly, it also provides an avenue for processing trauma. Enter….ArtAssist for Kids!
The Chatham Arts Council (CAC), Chatham County Schools, and community partners have come together through ArtAssist for Kids, a project designed to provide basic art supplies to Chatham County students who don’t have them during this time of COVID-cautious learning. We’re talking about paper, pencils, erasers, markers, colored pencils, and glue. These are not only general supplies that students need, but also, resources that can help provide an outlet for children, when words fail them.
“Kids have all this energy – and while some students are still virtual, others are learning in-school and still need individual supplies,” explained the CAC’s Julie Amani. “Valuable interactions can be had on-screen, but it does cut out a lot of natural opportunities for processing their feelings and fears. We know that the simple act of drawing, coloring, or creating a work of art provides this release, and helps kids express what’s happening in their worlds.”
The CAC and community volunteers came together in January to assemble 1,300 art kits for students. That’s a lot of glue! In fact, it’s pallets of glue! In addition, the team put together about 50 high school kits with sketchbooks, paint pens, flair pens, etc. for Chatham County students who are on an arts trajectory and need help procuring these expensive supplies.
The demand for these kits was so incredible, that the CAC worked with community partners, donors, and volunteers to create a second round of kits on three separate days in late February. After receiving additional pallets of supplies, high school volunteers and community members reconvened to assemble 1,136 ArtAssist for Kids kits. Teachers at local schools picked up the kits in early March and distributed them to the students who needed them most.
This initiative represents a shift in how the CAC approaches creative programming for the community. During the pandemic, the CAC has been reaching out to the community to uncover needs, then determining how the organization can best help. The impetus to create ArtAssist for Kids was born out of art teachers’ needs for their students. The CAC recognized the positive impact art supplies could have for students and created a program to fulfill the need.
The CAC has a huge love of Chatham County children, and obviously, art! As CAC Executive Director, Cheryl Chamblee, said, “It matters. Art matters for kids, even now, especially now.”
ArtAssist for Kids is possible thanks to support from Lloyd Grading & Utilities, Opus Financial Advisors, the congregation of Chatham Community Church, Paula Stafford and SoCo, the Pittsboro Rotary Club, Sycamore Steak House, Chatham Mills, Forest Hall, Pittsboro Food Lion, Julia Kennedy Art, and the amazing volunteers who gathered to assemble and deliver the kits! And of course, the CAC is grateful to Chatham County Schools for the long-standing partnership that puts kids first. THANK YOU!
If you believe in the power of art in helping kids express their feelings, please support this project. Click here to donate now.