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Art impacts us all as individuals, but it can also reach into a community to impact the masses. This is the goal of Chicago Kids Create, a program initiated by Chicago public school parent Catherine Marchese and artist Jeff Semmerling.

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“Chicago Kids Create is a unique, hands-on, visual arts training program designed for Chicago Public School students in grades 6-8. The 8 to 12 week program supplements classroom art training by teaching children sculptural arts through mask masking and includes both individual design and team components.”

In order to move this impactful program forward, Marchese has begun a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $2,500. On her Kickstarter page, Marchese explains the three parts of this wonderful program:

The first part focuses on individual children. The kids are asked, “Look at ME, what do you see?” and then answer that question using mask-making as their artistic medium. Each child learns sculptural design techniques and self-portraiture in order to make a mask representing who they are as a person. While participating in this process they will also learn about the history of masks in different cultures.

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The second part focuses on the children as a group. The kids are asked, “Look at US, what do you see?” At this step the students will work together to create a six-foot, three-dimensional human figure. By breaking into smaller groups several segments will be constructed then eventually placed together into one whole. “The students will learn the importance of creative teamwork and reflect on their identity as individuals and members of a community.”

The third part focuses on the children as educators. The students will visit several community festivals and city venues in order to “educate the public and press about the learning process, why they chose to create this particular design, and what it means to them to be seen and heard in a positive platform.” Just amazing.

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So far, Chicago Kids Create has only received $286 at the time of this writing, and still needs nearly 10 times that amount to become a reality. If you would like to support this inspiring program please visit Chicago Kids Create on Kickstarter prior to Friday, May 16, 2014 and donate to this great cause.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

When I arrived at the special needs school on the outskirts of Istanbul, I found a large building with several classrooms set up to teach a variety of skills to young adults with special needs. There was a kitchen, a woodworking room, a room for making candles, an art room, and lots of other facilities too.

The principal enthusiastically explained what the school was trying to achieve. . . read more

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