By Beth Guthrie, Bellewood School

What was the first day of programming like? The last day?

This is the second year of our partnership with Lisa Simon and LVA.  She began the 2018 partnership in March and will end on July 30.

What challenge have you faced this year? How did your agency/partnership solve it?

Lisa Simon is a fabulous artist. She is pioneering lots of new projects this summer.  She’s trying out a variety of materials to have the kids make an abacus like kinetic sculpture.  She is also planning to create a woven arbor creation, in partnership with both our students and volunteers.  She takes on a challenging population while stretching what she can do creatively.  She doesn’t shy away from a challenge.  This is far more than an art class.  She has created a community of young artists, with teachers, volunteers, and staff all enjoying the process side by side.  This has required her to work collaboratively with LVA to acquire all the needed resources and sit in meetings with volunteers to make sure she had the support she needed to take on these challenges.

What is one new thing you’ve learned/observed about the relationship between the arts and the wellbeing of the students served through Kosair® this year?

We have seen so much student growth.  Students showed growth in the arts- engaging in printmaking, sculpting, working with natural materials, weaving, and understanding ceramics and drawing.  Socially, students had to navigate a less structured environment.  These skills are the same they need when they return to a more typical setting.  They are learning how to share materials and space.  These are the kind of skills that are best learned in an authentic environment.  That is exactly what Lisa has created for us.

Is there a moment or student transformation that sticks out to you this year? Has something surprised you?

One of last year’s projects, the sensory dig sites- excavation in dirt and zen garden sand station are sites in our garden that are used daily.  This summer as our larger number of students created art, they would still go back and forth to these stations.  I can’t think of a better project that will be a lasting part of our garden for years to come. It left a legacy from the 2017 projects.  In that spirit, Lisa is creating a pvc, magnetic, ball run where students build with wood blocks and other materials to experiment with gravity.  This will be a permanent fixture in our garden.  This will let students build and discover long after the July art projects have ended.  Installations like this give students so much room to grow and explore.

What personal outcome are you most looking forward to achieving through programming?

I am most looking forward to seeing the students show off all they’ve created at the garden celebration on July 30th. Our students love to interact with others and although it is something they don’t get much practice at, it is so wonderful to let them be a typical kid and have an “open house” to show all they’ve worked so hard on.  This culminating experience will stay with them for a long time.  It shows them that challenging work is worth doing.

How has this partnership/programming aligned with your organization’s mission and goals for Greater Louisville?

Because of this program our students have access to art education.  Without this program more than 73 students would not have access to art education.  Our students are also students who have learning and behavioral needs.  A one-size-fits-all approach to art would not work with our population.  Lisa Simon tailored this experience to our program and our students’ needs every step of the way.  We are so grateful to Arts for Kosair® Kids, the Fund For the Arts, LVA, and Lisa Simon for making this possible.

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