I am a teacher for the Catholic Secondary Schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As the service learning coordinator (HOPE Coordinator) at the school, I am always looking for meaningful and substantive opportunities for my students to give back to the community through projects and experiences that both help the community, but also teach my students about leadership.
One of my favorite collaborations each year is our work with Artists Creating Together “ACT” (formerly known as Very Special Arts). ACT is a non-profit agency that provides arts experiences to people with disabilities. For many of my students, our work with ACT is their first experience working alongside people with disabilities. They are so enriched by this exposure to our broader community.
But our involvement goes further. In this project, my students are designing a large-scale activity area for ACT’s annual Festival Day on May 4. During the day, my students will work with over 1,000 children with disabilities from Kent ISD and together will create a variety of arts & textural experiences.
Already, the student leadership team is researching ideas for projects during the day. The leadership team is designing projects that are accessible to children of all abilities & ages- from children who are blind who create by sound & touch to children with development disabilities or emotional impairments who use art as their language for communication. We will recruit over 100 volunteers from the Catholic Secondary Schools to run the activity area for the day.
Today, we are requesting a grant of $1,000 to help pay for supplies & materials. With this money, my students can be creative & innovative in this project. For example, in a texture activity area, children can touch and create using a variety of creative materials: fabrics, beans, textured papers & metals.
Logistics: The leadership team started meeting in January to begin planning and researching project ideas that are fun, creative, appropriate for all children. In April, we will begin ordering supplies (everything from paint to pasta noodles!) Students who are interested in volunteering for the day will also begin to sign-up, and I will take care of the administrative red tape like permission slips. Set-up will start after school on May 3. Festival Day officially begins at 9:00 am and ends at 1:30 pm. At the conclusion of the day, students will clean-up and reorganize any remaining supplies for future use by ACT.
Funded by Grand Rapids, MI (April 2012)