What We Stand For
Our Growing Young Artists (GYA) program interrupts students’ “at-risk trajectory” through creative educational experiences. The program augments core skills in literacy and language fluency, math and science. Just as important, it builds crucial social and emotional skills including problem-solving, collaboration, empathy, self-direction, and responsibility.
Focusing on student assets
Many schools in our West Michigan region run summer school programs for migrant children. These young people travel with their parents and are considered “at risk”, typically moving from school to school, state to state throughout the year as their parents travel for seasonal agricultural work.
This is where Growing Young Artists comes in for migrant and other at-risk students. Through daily writing exercises, yoga and mindfulness, field trips to area museums and galleries, and lots of drawing and painting the GYA Artist in Residence and our teaching team helps students think about the roles they play in their families and communities and how they can use their voices positively, even having a lasting impact in their community.
Like rings on a target
Impacting students, teachers, schools and community
But in addition, we want them to finish GYA knowing that their stories, opinions and perspectives matter. This program is as much about relationships and life experiences as art-making. We continually ask students how they can use their creativity to help others because we believe that art and creativity have the power to break down all kinds of barriers and truly impact lives.
It builds relationships and long-term learning strategies that impact entire school populations.
A Message From
Our Education Manager
This past summer students who were rarely praised, often in trouble or grade levels behind – were publicly celebrated. Their art work was the focal point of a community-wide event that solved our identified challenge: how to create an authentic bridge to the community’s Hispanic population. BIG issue, right?
To solve the problem, the students explored the question of what “A United World” might look like. Students as young as 4 years old came up with the “See Our Same” theme and were a part of designing an outdoor exhibition of symbolic fabric flags to visualized the statement.
Students were given a voice — it was incredible for them to publically share personalized pieces and for the community to see them, really see and listen to them.
It was powerful for the community leadership to see that – trusting students – significantly paid off. I know art IS the vehicle. Celebrating assets IS the focus. Community IS the classroom.