LINKAGES TO LEARNING
Heavy focus on common core subjects, such as reading and math are threatening the elementary school artistic masterpieces that adorn kitchen doors across America. In a time where there is much pressure on students and teachers for academic metrics and testing, art summer camps provide a creative reprieve from life’s challenges.
This summer 32 children from YMCA Youth & Family Services’ Linkages to Learning program at Oak View Elementary School participated in Creative Adventures, a week-long intensive visual art summer camp. The camp is a partnership between YMCA Youth & Family Services and local arts nonprofit, Creative Adventures that has continued since 2012. The program can serve up to 35 students and invites students who are currently participating in the Linkages to Learning program across multiple Title 1 schools around the area. For five days, students from six local schools participated and received free breakfast and lunch through Montgomery County Public Schools.
Creative Adventures camp created a safe space for these children to express themselves and let their imaginations guide them in creating works of art. In one week, the children created art pieces that represented them and their families using different mediums. For many students, it was the first time they used reeds to create a loom and weave ribbons that represented them, their family and their community. Through the camp, children of varying ages learned to work and help each other on their art projects. At the end of the program, the students presented their creations and explained the processes used to their parents. This event brings the community together and exemplifies YMCA Youth & Family Services’ commitment to creating connections within local communities.
This year, of 32 children who participated, 12 were children who had been traumatized by the fire that occurred at the Silver Spring apartments in August of 2016 (insert Link to video of Carson & Camp). For these young people the benefit of the mental health services they received during the school year from the Linkages to Learning program along with the summer camp have been immeasurable.
When asked about her aspiration for the camp, Executive Director of Creative Adventures, Rosana Azar, shared, “[my goal] is to plant a seed in these children; a seed of creativity, of self-confidence, of being unique.”
Though the children in the camp have faced some difficult challenges the camp provided them with a chance to just be a kid and be creative without having to think about many of the troubles they face.