Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Notes from the Intern: Favorite Memories

While I still have a couple weeks left interning at the Cook Arts Center, I’ve been taking the time to reflect on the past four months that I’ve been here. I have been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned during my time of interning, I have also began to realize just how many great memories I have so far. My blog post this week is a small collection of my favorite memories at the Arts Center.

A couple weeks ago, the weather got warmer and many of the art projects headed outside. One day, I had two boys in my group and they begged me to go outside and play with them in the playground. So as we headed out, I quickly thought about some ways to incorporate art into our playground fun. First I had them find a giant pile of rocks. Then I challenged them to see how high they could balance the rocks on to each other. After they worked on that for a while, I told them to make a cool design that incorporates the element of balance. As they worked, I began to tell them about the movement Earthworks. I told them about the Spiral Jetty and other cool projects that use natural objects to create art works. While the whole activity was fun, my favorite part happened towards the end of our art project. One of the boys had just made a really beautiful design with the rocks when all of a sudden, he stood up and lifted both hands in the air and yelled at the top of his lungs, “I LOVE NATURE!!!!!”

One day I brought in whole sheets of bubble wrap for each child. I had them sit down at a table and then taped the bubble wrap onto the table. They then went crazy with painting their sheet. After the sheet was completely covered with paint, we took paper and pressed it completely over the wet paint. When you pull back the sheet, a print is made on the paper. The kids loved this project, which is always fun. One girl in particular loved it. Every time that she pulled her sheet back, she would squeal with delight at the results. We must have made at least 6 or 7 prints, and every time she’d look up at me with a huge smile on her face and the cutest little laugh would pop out.

The last story I’ll share happened just yesterday. A new family just started attending the Arts Center. On the walk back to the Arts Center, one of the girls picked a bunch of dandelions. The older sister told her that if she rubs the dandelion on her nose a boy will like her the next day. She seemed pretty confused on what to do at this point. She really wanted to rub some on her nose, but she didn’t really want a boy to like her. So I dipped my nose down into the dandelion to let her know it was ok. I, of course, then got a bunch of yellow on my nose, which resulted in a bunch of laughs. We continued walking down the sidewalk when suddenly I look over at the little girl and her face was absolutely covered in yellow pollen!

** Shelly is a senior at Calvin College majoring in English and Studio Art. She shares her experiences interning at the Cook Arts Center on this blog once a week. **

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cook Arts Center Students Recognized by Amway

Cook Arts Center Director Amy Brower accompanied three Cook Arts Center students to
an event hosted by Amway last week. Amway's One by One program asked children who
participate in all of the programs that they support to create artworkwhich they could keep
at Amway but also send around the world to the different Amway offices. The girls from the
Arts Center (Priscilla, Isabella and Ashley) whose work was selected to be part of the exhibit
had made the paintings last summer during our Summer Arts Camp.

At the event, students were able to see their work framed and hanging on the wall. Students
also got a tour of the Amway headquarters and saw the artwork that otherchildren from
around the world (such as China, Russia, Central America) had created. The girls were treated
to gift bags with art supplies and cookies and juice after the tour.

Thanks to Amway for a wonderful event, and for their consistent and much appreciated
support of Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities

See more photos and read a write up of the event at Amway's Blog

Art gallery tour

Isabella and her artwork.

Priscilla and Ashley and their artwork.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Notes from the Intern: Rainy Monday

In case you didn’t notice, yesterday's weather was not very nice. With the wind and the rain, the most of us were thinking back longingly to last Saturday with its warmth and sunshine. While I was distracted by thoughts of the warmth at first, I had a small revelation that the weather only made clearer. The dreary weather surprisingly made me see how much I enjoy a certain aspect of the Cook Arts Center that is often overshadowed: picking the kids up from school. I realized today that even when the weather is bad, I look forward to the time spent walking back with the kids every day.

Let me explain. Since a good portion of the kids that attend the Cook Arts Center go to Southwest Community Campus, a couple of volunteers meet the kids outside school every day so that they don’t have to walk over alone. This saves parents time since they don’t have to pick them up to bring them to the Arts Center, and saves us from worrying about the kids crossing the street on their own. So, one of my jobs at the Arts Center is walking over to the school every day and walking back with the kids.

But it goes beyond just walking. A situation is created where I can connect with the kids individually and easily talk one on one about their day. One of my favorite questions to ask is, “What was the best and worst part of your day?” While the best part is normally “recess,” I have had other times where the kids start telling me in detail about stuff they are excited about. One boy told me all about his science experiment on how different fertilizers will affect plant growth. Later on that week, he excitedly told me about how horse manure made the plants grow the biggest.

Now, the worst part of their day can be as simple as “school was boring.” Other times however, kids start talking about what is going on in their lives, whether it is about problems they are having at home, with a teacher, or with friends. Without being obvious, it gets them in the habit of talking their problems out…and gives me a time for me to help them with things that are bothering them.

One example happened a couple of months ago when a boy was upset because he had gotten into trouble at school. He was really mad and was taking it out on the people around him. I asked him what was wrong, and he proceeded to tell me about what happened. By talking it out, he started to calm down. Then, I was able to help him figure out what he could do to make things better, and eventually he was able to see how he was unnecessarily taking his anger out on other people. While I’m sure this didn’t change his entire outlook on life, it is nice to know that in such a simple situation, he could possibly learn some healthy methods on dealing with the stresses that are in his life.

Today I realized that no matter what the setting is, even if it just walking with some kids so they can go to art classes, a connection can be made. And through that simple connection, you can make a difference in a child's life.

** Shelly is a senior at Calvin College majoring in English and Studio Art. She shares her experiences interning at the Cook Arts Center on this blog once a week. **

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Notes from the Intern: Interview with a Volunteer

This week, Shelly interviewed Cook Arts Center volunteer Jack Organ.

Shelly: Jack, tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you like to do?

Jack: I am Jack Organ from Kent, Ohio. I am an Art major, Spanish minor at this point, and I enjoy running, climbing trees, playing soccer, watching movies, romping around with kids, and living in God's light.

Shelly: You’ve been volunteering with the Cook Arts Center since last October. Why do you volunteer?

Jack: My volunteering at the Arts Center began as a thing to do to earn credit for my Spanish class, but after a few months, I began to form relationships with the kids and really enjoy coming and working with them as opposed to checking the clock to see how much time I had left to be there. I love being able to see kids once a week since it's one thing that I really miss in college besides having a pet. It lets me connect with my younger self in a way that will hopefully positively influence these kids. Plus, it's really fun to see how surprised and impressed they are when I can speak to them in Spanish.

Shelly: What is your favorite part about volunteering at the Cook Arts Center?

Jack: My favorite part about volunteering might be giving piggy-back rides when we walk from their school to the Arts Center. It makes me feel very much like the college students I used to climb on and run around with when I was in grade school, so I feel like I'm bringing that joy to a younger generation and then one day, they can pass it on again.

Shelly: Do you have a specific memory that sticks out for you?

Jack: My favorite memory revolves around a little guy named Jeremy. He showed up to the pottery class I had been helping out in, a class where he was going to be the youngest kid. He was very shy and very attached to his sisters and he clearly didn't want to leave them, but did so with some persuasion. For the first month or so of our interaction in the class, he only nodded as a form of communication. One day, I asked him if he wanted to put his name on his clay piece and he handed it to me and began to sign his name to me. Then, a few weeks after that, I was trying to help him clean up and I asked him if he wanted to wash his hands. He looked at me and, very clearly, said "Yes." That was my favorite moment.

Shelly: What are your thoughts on the Arts Center?

Jack: I love what the Arts Center is doing in that they are trying to give kids in an urban neighborhood a chance to develop useful skills that they can use now or later in life. I love the staff and other volunteers and I am so glad that I signed up to volunteer at the Arts Center last fall in my Spanish class.

** Shelly is a senior at Calvin College majoring in English and Studio Art. She shares her experiences interning at the Cook Arts Center on this blog once a week. **

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thanks, Calvin College Rugby Team!

The Calvin College Rugby Team hosted Michigan State University and Northern Michigan on Saturday.

Library Director Sue Garza brought some students from the Cook Library Center to the game, who were greeted by players (some of whom volunteer at the library) and presented with Calvin Rugby tee shirts and hats - which the students immediately donned.

Raffle tickets were sold throughout the game with the proceeds going to the Cook Library Center. Some of our library students were able to draw the winning lottery tickets!

Students had a great time watching the game, and cheering on their mentors. They even got to meet Calvin's Knight mascot!

Many thanks to Ben Gandy and the Calvin College Rugby Team for their dedication to the library through volunteering, and for designating the Cook Library Center as the beneficiary of its raffle fundraiser!

For more about the Calvin College Rugby Team, click HERE.

Friday, April 10, 2009

D&W Steps Up Program Starts SUNDAY!

For those of you that shop at D&W, here's an easy way for you to help out
GAAH in the coming week.

The D&W Fresh Market Steps Up In Your Neighborhood program is designed
specifically for the support of schools and non-profit groups. D&W
designates specific weeks scheduled throughout the school year where GAAH
supporters can shop, give our group code, and receive 2.5% back on their
total purchase.

Simply shop at D&W starting THIS SUNDAY: APRIL 12-18

Give the D&W cashier GAAH's code: 95760 and the 2.5% of purchase donation
will automatically be credited to GAAH's account. It's just that easy!

GAAH will receive a check from D&W in May 2009 and funds will be used to
support our facilities and services.

Mark your calendars, write down our group code, and shop D&W this week to
support GAAH!

Spring Break Camp at the Cook Arts Center

The Cook Arts Center was a busy place to be this week with 40+ students attending our Spring Break Camp each day. Students ages 5-18 attended daily Monday-Thursday for two hours to participate in dance and visual art projects and activities. A special thanks to our volunteers from Calvin & Aquinas Colleges who were on hand to help out.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Calvin vs. MSU Rugby Game to benefit Cook Library Center!

Half of all proceeds from a raffle being held during the Calvin vs. MSU rugby game here in Grand Rapids on Saturday will benefit the Cook Library Center. GAAH Director of Development & Communications and Cook Library Center Director Sue Garza will draw the winning raffle tickets during half time. So bring the family along to Calvin College at 12pm on Saturday April 11 to watch what's sure to be a great rugby game, and to support the Cook Library Center and GAAH!

For more info click HERE and HERE.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Notes from the Intern: Outside Art!

Since the afternoon weather had taken a surprisingly nice turn and the previously planned art project had the potential to be very messy, the Cook Arts Center Drop-In-Art class had the experience of doing art outside last Thursday.

The other volunteers and I loaded our arms up with paper, straws, and cups full of various colors of paint. The kids begged for me to tell them what we were going to do, but I refused to spill my secret. Instead, they shouted out what they thought we were going to do. Their ideas ranged from painting the grass to painting themselves. Thankfully, I was able to steer them away from both of those ideas.

I gave everyone a sturdy piece of paper, a paint color, and a straw. After emphasizing that they NOT inhale, I told them that we were going to be doing blow-painting. By dipping the straw into the cup of paint, they could then blow the paint out of the straw and onto their papers. The kids passed colors back and forth eagerly—adding more and more color to their paper.

Personally, I think that the sign of a good art project is when the kids start exploring on their own. And that is exactly what they did. After making sure that it was ok with me, Gregory started flicking his straw onto the paper, Erika started blurring all her paint together, and Shadaa started adding globs of paint on to her project.

Comments like, “That is so cool!” and “How’d you do that?” were being tossed around easily among us. They then began explaining to the others what they were doing. It was great seeing the paintings that came from this project but also the response that the kids had. Not only were they encouraging to each other, but they also took pride in their own work.

Of course, the project proved to be very messy. By the end of it they had paint all over their hands, faces, clothes, and even their hair. But it was worth every drop of paint I had to clean off of my own hair and clothes.

** Shelly is a senior at Calvin College majoring in English and Studio Art. She shares her experiences interning at the Cook Arts Center on this blog once a week. **

Thursday, April 2, 2009

GVSU Book Drive a HUGE Success!

The Cook Library Center was extremely fortunate to be the recipient of a book drive held at GVSU's Sabrosisimo dance event: Baila Conmigo, a couple of weeks ago (find out more about the event HERE)

GVSU student Derek Duzan, who coordinated the event, grew up in the Grandville Avenue neighborhood and saw this book drive as a way for him to give back. He stopped into the library yesterday with the books he had collected. We were amazed!

Many, many thanks to Derek, Sabrisisimo, and all of the GVSU students and community members who donated books to the book drive. We are so appreciative of your support of Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities and the Cook Library Center.