In summer 2023, Wayne Center for the Arts (WCA) and YMCA of Wayne County were very pleased to provide programming thanks to the support of the Give 365 program of the Wayne County Community Foundation. The summer project was an extension of WCA’s Community Outreach Program and provided arts programming to their summer camp students. WCA was able to send an instructor to 4 of their camp locations (Wooster YMCA, Shreve Elementary, Creative Academy at First Presbyterian Church, and Cornerstone Elementary) on a weekly basis. This resulted in 235 Wayne County children between the ages of 6 and 12 being exposed to arts on a regular basis throughout the summer.
At the conclusion of the program, WCA measured 4 quality of life factors, and students showed a positive increase in self-confidence, reduction in stress and anxiety, reduced isolation and increased socialization, and acquired skills and found a positive way to express themselves creatively.
WCA instructors are fortunate to witness the transformative power of art through the Community Outreach Program. One example is an 8 year old boy who was participating in an art project creating a bookmark. The instructor came over to him to observe and ask about his design. He had divided the bookmark into 2 sections and began explaining that his parents were getting a divorce and he was about to have a new living arrangement. In the top section, he drew his mom and her house and began telling the instructor about the positive aspects of living with his mom. On the bottom, he did the same for his dad. The instructor noted that as the boy worked on the project, he was processing the upcoming change in his life, talking through it, and creating a visual map to comprehend what he was going through. The Community Outreach Program provided a safe and nurturing environment for the boy to process his feelings through art and through interaction with the instructor. As the program continued week after week, the boy’s trust in the instructor grew and he was able to share more and more. The WCA instructor believes this experience was instrumental in helping the boy cope emotionally with the life change he was experiencing.
Wayne Center for the Arts is committed to continuing the Community Outreach Program to ensure the healing and transformative power of art is available to all. At its essence, the Community Outreach Program is about collaboration with other organizations throughout Wayne County. WCA maintains these relationships in order to generate the most impact but also to magnify impact and capitalize on limited resources.
WCA is grateful to the gift from the GIVE 365 Fund to administer this program for summer 2023!