Give a child a set of crayons and a sheet of paper, and watch their imagination light up. Even the most active child enjoys slowing down and engaging with these tools of creative self-expression. That is why art activities for kids form an integral part of the social and academic development of all children.
Dr. Timothy Leistner, former Programs Manager at Children’s Services Council of Broward County (CSC), says art remains a valuable tool children. For kids, art becomes a way to learn storytelling. “It’s amazing how they layer the story on the same canvas,” says Dr. Leistner. “They may start with a house or playground on a sunny day with grass, flowers, children and adults. Then suddenly they may overlay approaching clouds to tell the story of a storm coming. And then they might add rain drops and so on. Even before they learn to read and write, they expand their literacy skills using art.”
Engaging Kids Through Art
In Broward County, CSC encourages engagement for kids through many art activities. This includes MOST (Maximizing Out=of-School Time), Youth FORCE (middle school after school), STEP (special needs), and Respite programs. They also provide small-group and individualized art therapy for children with special needs through the Cadenza Center for Psychotherapy and the Arts.
Other programs that use art to address trauma and engage youth in family strengthening and diversion programs are provided through the newly established Eagles’ Haven Wellness Center in Coral Springs and the Broward Behavioral Health Coalition, as well as Smith Community Mental Health. At Eagles’ Haven in particular, they have brought in a variety of outside vetted resources including art services for their wellness programs.
For more information about art focused programming for children and youth throughout Broward, visit the Arts Education Directory on www.broward.org/ Arts/ArtsEducation, maintained by the Broward Cultural Division.