The Arts & Smarts Program provides children with healthy, creative activities through mentoring relationships with caring adults. Arts & Smarts helps children maintain progress in school, explore creativity, learn non-violent approaches to problem solving and build self-esteem. Arts & Smarts Programs are provided free to all children. To register, stop by Patchwork Central for a registration form or call to have one mailed to you.
We work to keep group sizes small and to provide plenty of staff and adult volunteers, allowing us to remain responsive to the needs of individual children. We also train Teen Volunteers to be good role models for the younger children. Many of these teens attended the Arts & Smarts program as children, so they are in a unique position to lead activities within the program.
During the 2011-2012 school year, 89 children and youth in grades 1-12 attended the Arts & Smarts program, equaling 1763 individual afternoons of creativity, learning, and growth. Average daily attendance was 18 children. Of these children, 93% belonged to low income families. Sixty children attended our 2012 summer activities, which took place over five weeks in June and July.
Individual Components of Arts & Smarts Include:
72 sessions of one-on-one tutoring are provided each week during the school year for children in grades 1-5. Tutors help the children overcome early learning deficiencies and stay on academic par with their peers in the areas of reading, math, spelling, composition, social studies and science. Students are scheduled to meet with a tutor for two 45 minute sessions per week. In consultation with the student, parent or guardian and teacher, the tutors structure their support to meet the child’s individual needs.
For the past decade, the arts have played an increasingly important role in Patchwork’s after school programming. Creative and performing arts require focus, perseverance, determination, and self-discipline. Children who acquire these traits have within their grasp a future of unlimited potential. While many of our after school activities focus on the arts, we provide a variety of other experiences for children who attend. Daily activities vary but include the following:
Using multicultural art forms, children learn to stretch their imagination and explore their own creativity through a variety of media. Some past activities include a parade inspired by the Mexican “Dia de los Muertos” and a Japanese tea ceremony using our hand built raku teacups. Additionally, children learn pottery skills, learn about mixing colors during easel painting, and create sculptures using found objects. Occasional speakers and guest artists add variety and authenticity to the activities.
This activity originated from a student’s request for more physically active programming. Students and volunteers take hour-long walks through the neighborhood. Often this gives volunteers an opportunity to engage the child in quality conversation and lend a listening ear as they walk together. Coupled with the walking, substance abuse prevention information is presented to participants by high school volunteers, and a healthy snack reinforces healthy lifestyle choices.
For forty-five minutes each week, an eager group of children gathers in a comfortable, informal meeting area. Each child selects a book from a reading cart, and an adult volunteer reads to the child or listens as the child reads aloud. In an average school year, around 400 books are read over 35 weeks. At the end of spring semester, the children are rewarded with books to take home with them. Marilyn Haley who organizes Patchwork’s Book Club was recognized for her work by Leadership Evansville in Spring, 2004.
Art & Company participants are children working side-by-side with adults to learn the principles of running a small business while developing the art skills needed to create engaging art products. Participants create art, learn how to sell it, earn profit shares based on their investments of time and energy, then learn about managing their money from visiting bankers. During the 2010-2011 school year, employees of Old National Bank have partnered with Art & Company to prepare a unique curriculum for the children. Products by Art & Company are available at Patchwork’s Holiday Sale and Pancake Breakfast and year-round in the artWorks gallery. In 2001, Art & Company was recognized as an Outstanding Art/Education Program by Leadership Evansville’s Celebration of Leadership Awards
Patchwork approaches substance abuse prevention through positive, supportive activities that educate and equip children with the necessary tools to resist drugs, alcohol and other risky behaviors. Lessons, activities and creative projects are planned and presented by trained High School Peer Educators.
Garden activities include planting seeds, weeding, mulching, picking various fruits and vegetables, composting, and caring for garden tools. Children then turn our harvests into healthful snacks. In this way, children are encouraged to try foods such as beets, kohlrabi, and tomatoes that they initially describe as "scary." It is also an opportunity for them to understand where food comes from and appreciate the natural world, even in the heart of a city.
Middle school and high school youth participate in school year and summer programs as role models to younger children. As they transition from being participants to volunteers, they are mentored by Patchwork staff, given increased responsibilities, and earn monthly outings as a reward for their efforts.
In June and July, the Patchwork Children’s Summer Program combines hands-on art projects with gardening. For years children have worked alongside gardeners and artists in the Patchwork gardens, transforming vacant lots into vital resources for the community. Other summer projects have included outdoor sculptures, an adobe bread oven, custom bicycle building, life skills training, and cooking.
At the conclusion of both the after-school and summer sessions, the children celebrate their accomplishments by sharing performances and art displays with their families and friends at the Year End and Summer Celebrations