After seeing the kids’ happy faces, she wanted to do more. Chelsea pooled her allowance and tooth fairy money, and asked friends and relatives to check out her Amazon wish list. Donations started pouring in.
Between August and March, the Phaires made nearly 900 art kits for shelters and homes in various states. They drove from Danbury, Conn., where they live, to hand deliver the packages. As part of the in-person deliveries, Chelsea gave an art lesson to the recipients of her kits, including a small presentation on why art is important to her.
“Whether I’m happy or sad, art is always there for me,” said Chelsea, who is in the fifth grade.
When the pandemic hit, her family decided it was more important than ever to provide as many art kits as possible to children in need. They made around 1,500 kits, which have been sent to kids in 12 states, her mother said. At first, the Phaire family was paying for all the shipping costs, but they eventually started a PayPal account to help with the mounting postage fees.
With the help of her parents, she now runs Chelsea’s Charity, an organization aimed at providing art supplies to children, particularly those who have endured hardship and trauma in their young lives.
For Chelsea, art is communication. She knows that a simple sketch, a carefully crafted painting or a glitter-covered canvas serves a powerful purpose in the life of a child.
The idea behind the initiative came to Chelsea after she was gifted an art kit from a family friend two years ago. Her mother told her to take good care of it, since many children don’t have any art supplies.
“This made me so sad,” said Chelsea, who then decided she wanted all kids to have access to basic art supplies.
“Chelsea always had a strong desire to start a charity and asked us about it from the time she was only 5 years old,” said Candace Phaire. “When she got a little older, my husband and I said yes.”
The materials from her Amazon wish list ship directly to their home, and with the help of her younger brother Corey, 9, Chelsea organizes the products and divides them into separate containers to send to children in homeless shelters, foster care homes, and schools in need of additional support.
“It quickly became a family project,” Candace Phaire said. “Everybody has a role.”
The shelters and foster care services that have received the art kits have been grateful.
“The kids were just so excited, and it was a huge weight off the parents’ shoulders,” said Shana Carignan, development director at Families Moving Forward, the largest shelter for children and families experiencing homelessness in Durham, N.C.
The shelter, which regularly uses art therapy to help children cope with trauma, is no longer able to facilitate these programs due to coronavirus concerns. They used to share art supplies among the children.
“The kids were really missing this,” she said. “So, having their own art kits has been very helpful.”
Stacy Dewitt, the executive director of James Storehouse, which provides resources for youth in Los Angeles entering the foster care system, received 50 kits from Chelsea’s Charity last week.
“Children who enter the foster care system typically have no belongings, which is traumatic for them,” she said. “It is so nice to be able to give them something extra, especially because art is very therapeutic for processing emotions.”
Foster parents, too, said the kits are particularly useful for occupying the kids, and allowing them to channel their energy in a positive way.
“These art kits have helped caregivers, particularly those with new foster placements, engage in conversation with the kids in a safe way that builds trust,” Dewitt said.
Chelsea’s Charity communicates directly with shelters and organizations to offer supplies, but recently, families in need have also started reaching out to the Phaires.
“I had a foster mom contact us personally today,” Candance Phaire said this week. “We are sending her some kits tomorrow.”
Candace Phaire, who is a professor of early-childhood education at Central Connecticut State University, believes art plays an important role in the emotional development in children.
Recently, Chelsea’s class had plans for a field trip, and she was counting down the days with excitement. But when the students were told the trip was canceled due to the coronavirus, Chelsea grabbed her own art kit to cope with her disappointment.
“Art helps me communicate when I can’t express myself,” she said. “Art is my voice.”
With more free time lately, she has also started a “Chat with Chelsea” initiative, facilitating weekly interviews on Instagram Live with different artists.
She’s already chatted with Nikkolas Smith — children’s book author and illustrator at Walt Disney Imagineering, as well as Kathy Cano-Murillo, the chief executive of The Crafty Chica, and Najee Dorsey, the founder of Black Art In America, among others.
Beyond providing art supplies to children across the nation, Chelsea has high hopes to expand her charity around the world.
“I think if every child had access to art supplies, it would make the world a much better place,” she said.
Kids can make art to brighten Red Deer seniors’ lodges – Red Deer Advocate
The Red Deer Public Library is calling on young artists to help brighten seniors’ lodges.
The library is calling for “mini-artists” to drop off their paper creations — whether it’s flowers, drawings, letters or cards — into bins outside two participating Red Deer seniors’ lodges this week.
They are Timberstone Mews (42 Timberstone Way) and Harmony Care (200 Inglewood Dr.).
Staff from the lodges will “proudly display the creations,” bringing joy to residents and staff.
They are also planning to make some social media posts featuring art that is on display at the lodges.
A virtual Art in the Garden festival is happening on the North Shore this weekend – North Shore News
The North Shore’s annual Art in the Garden event is gearing up to go digital this weekend.
The event has been re-imagined as a livestreamed art and music demonstration this Saturday and Sunday evening, while encouraging community members to share pictures of their own green spaces online.
Last month, North Van Arts made the decision to suspend the 21st annual Art in the Garden festival due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of practising physical distancing during an event which melds visual arts with some of the North Shore’s most extraordinary gardens.
The decision was made to offer an online version of Art in the Garden in order to keep the spirt of the long-running festival intact, according to Nancy Cottingham Powell, executive director of North Van Arts.
“Art in the Garden is the longest running North Shore garden tour and we didn’t want to just cancel this event that inspires gardeners, artists and nature lovers,” stated Powell, in a press release.
As part of its new online event, for the month of May the arts and culture organization reached out to visual artists and musicians who had participated in past festivals and asked them to create short videos outlining their work, inspiration and methodology.
The six artist videos were released weekly on North Van Arts’ social media channels and website.
This weekend, local painters Nicola Morgan and Pierre Leichner are set to take over the organization’s Instagram account as they livestream the creation of original artwork over live music performed by North Shore musicians Ava Maria Safai and Paul Silveria.
Viewers can tune in on May 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. each night.
North Van Arts is also encouraging people on the North Shore to comment and share pictures of their gardens and green spaces this weekend, as well as their own nature-inspired art, by using the hashtag #ArtintheGarden.
“These extraordinary times have forced us to look at how we connect with our community. Art in the Garden Online is an opportunity for us to support our members and local artists in a unique way,” stated Powell.
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