ARTists at Work

Every Friday at 3pm Arcata Elementary students eagerly await the arrival of ART program’s (Art Recreation Theater) students from Humboldt State University. About 7-10 volunteers participate in this program each semester and work with 10-20 kids at a time during service. ART’s mission is to empower children through the expression of art, recreation, and theater. They say these services help children who would normally be very shy find their voice and the courage to express themselves creatively. 
 
ART photo 1
 
Directors Alex Gonzalez and Citlalli Jara say since they have been directors this last year they have grown themselves. Alex remarked that she had been known to be shy, similar to some of the children at Arcata Elementary. Alex says she has witnessed participants go through her same process of opening up, starting out shy and non-participatory and eventually guiding and leading during activities. Citlalli and Alex say that even though they love to see kids open up like this in their program, they won’t force any child to participate that is too shy. They often accomodate by hosting any number of diverse activities, such as having a “doodling table” or alternative activities. They said that often, though, they find that the kids “go beyond what we expect them to do” and find their courage to participate. 
 
ART photo 2
 
Citlalli and Alex say they have really bonded with the kids, since beginning the program as volunteers over a year ago, “there are certain ones that have been with us for a while that I remember from my first semester volunteering”, says Citlalli, “We’re as involved as our volunteers”. Citlalli and Alex are some of the most dedicated directors, saying “Even when we have really low numbers we still go to service, rather than cancelling it”. Alex remembers a time when this happened with a two-to-ten ratio of volunteers to kids, simply exclaiming, “We did it!”.