Art Learning Packs went out this week to 800 local children enrolled in Redwood and Dana Gray schools, and reflect our steady commitment to children’s creative learning. Art Packs are filled with tools and supplies to enable children to be creative at home and to help teachers engage children with arts-integrated learning. As families began collecting these special supplies from the schools, the Art Packs quickly generated excitement by children and teachers in the Distance-Learning Classrooms. With the Packs delivered, Flockworks will now focus on supporting arts-integrated approaches with Redwood and Dana Gray teachers and bringing art activities out to children at home.
Scissors, crayons, markers, paints, glue stick, and pencils are among the 20 different things that make up each Pack, with a total of 16,000 items needed for the entire set. 800 cloth bags were hand-screen printed by volunteer artists. Nearly 400 hours went into planning, ordering, organizing, packing, and delivering the Packs, with volunteers in masks and practicing Safe Distancing. Four trailer loads were required to get all the packs to the schools.
Joanna Wigginton and Norma Trejo are the Flockworks team leading this very different year of Art for elementary children in the Fort Bragg School District. For the past few years, the team led weekly art at Dana Gray School. Students and teachers loved the on-campus Art Studio and art from 400 plus students regularly filled the hallways and went out for community events. Things abruptly ended with COVID Shelter-in-Place orders in March, but school plans for 2020-21 remained unclear until August. In the meantime, California Arts Council awarded Flockworks an Artist in Schools grant in June to help continue the Dana Gray program and extend art support to Redwood School. While the proposal written before the pandemic, realities meant a totally new approach was required to make art part of a distance learning format. The Art Learning Packs were the first step but added an unexpected cost necessary to make home-based, art-infused learning a reality. Given the economic challenges facing most families, the team felt it was essential to ensure all children had simple tools and materials at home.
“These are the most challenging and uncertain times for all of us,” says Flockworks Director, Janet Self, “yet we had to find the way to keep things going for our kids! Art builds children’s resilience and helps cope with stress. Children typically do better academically and are more successful in the long-run. Kids who participate in the arts feel better about themselves. For those of us who simply love the arts, it is easy to see why. Now science and research are documenting how many ways it matters. During this world pandemic, this is more critical than ever!”
Along with the CAC funding, community support and small grants make this Art@Schools project possible. FBUSD provided $5,000 for supplies for the year, but COVID adds serious financial challenges. Donations are needed to cover the unexpected costs of the Art Packs ($10,000) and project material needs throughout the school year of distance learning.
Letter from 1st grader Henry, sent to us by class teacher, makes all the efforts worthwhile, Teachers also value the Art integration support and resources Flockworks is bringing to this challenging school year of Distance Learning during the pandemic.