Sunday, March 24, 2013

Art With Kids, a wonderful volunteer program

In nasty weather like this, I really appreciate an occasion to take the kids out of the house for a great activity. If you feel the same and have kids between walking age to around 10 or 11, you’re in luck: the Art With Kids program downtown on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 to 5 is just what you need.
Working artist Cindy Waters facilitates this fun variety of art projects weekly at the Do-It-Yourself Arts Collective at 67 Toronto Street (across from Meineke). The program runs on a drop-in basis; no pre-registration is required and you can attend as many or few weeks as you like.
It’s great for the whole family. Kids dive into something new and artistic, with materials they may not have at home. (Or maybe they can do something messy, that you’d rather they not do at home!) They can draw inspiration from each other, or from the ever-changing selection of fresh, local, eclectic art on display on the studio walls.
Parents enjoy a coffee or tea and a chat while their kids are hard at work (or play) creating little masterpieces. And did I mention the healthy snacks? There is always a selection of fresh fruit & vegetables with crackers and juice, and sometimes even Cindy’s fresh baked goods.
Best of all, it’s only $3 for one child, or $5 for the whole family – which includes art & materials, snack, juice, and hot beverage! Allowances can be made if affordability is an issue, but since this is a non-profit activity, donations of art supplies or materials are always appreciated. Cindy volunteers her time to plan and run the program; as she says, “It’s soul work, I give it for free because it makes me feel good.”
Each week of the session is a different project; at our last two sessions, my girls enjoyed making collages and fancy Valentine cards, and we saw some beautiful but long-drying coloured corn syrup projects that would have been a sticky disaster at our house, but worked fine at the studio.
The fall and winter sessions were quite successful, and the program renews with a spring session from March 27th to May 29th that introduces a scheduled program of guest art instructors. And coming up in June will be the Art With Kids Expo, a kids’ art show where participants can hang & sell their own creations, featuring balloons, live music, popcorn, Shamus the Magician, and other entertainment being lined up.
If you’re like me and have no art sense, but love to see your children get creative, then I look forward to seeing you and yours at Art With Kids some Wednesday this spring!
Published in my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as "Get creative at the weekly Art With Kids program".
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

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