Head, Hands, Heart, Health: Learn by Doing in 4-H

4-H Happy Art

Art HOPE “Happy Art” created by 4-H volunteers

Art HOPE is proud to announce we have a 4-H Club, and are part of the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization, reaching more than 6 million 4-H youth in urban neighborhoods, suburban schoolyards and rural farming communities. For over 100 years 4-H programs have engaged young people in hands-on learning activities that help them reach their full potential, working in their communities with peers and adult mentors. The 4-H motto is to “make the best, better” and members pledge, “my HEAD to clearer thinking, my HEART to greater loyalty, my HANDS to larger service, and my HEALTH to better living, for my club, my community and my world.” These values inspire how 4-H’ers learn by doing, supported by university-backed curriculum and our nation’s Cooperative Extension System in the areas of science, healthy living, and sustainability.

In 2005 Art HOPE first developed a youth service learning collaboration with the York County 4-H, launching our “Happy Art” project and an origami curriculum which became a model for the “Taking Flight” program being launched at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital this fall. The Art HOPE Youth Service in Healthcare Program in partnership with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension York County 4-H is on-going, with educational outreach at area schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and community-based events. This year our annual art table at the Acton Fair in the 4-H Pavillion drew a crowd of young volunteer artists who painted a plethora of Happy Art cards. It was fun and enjoyable for all to see art in action at the old-fashioned country fair. If you have a community service project, the 4-H knows how to roll up their sleeves, grab a paint brush and get the job done with a smile.

Creative hands-on learning results in better educational outcomes. An experiential arts-based education improves verbal, written, math, and science achievement, expands imaginative thinking, instills self-discipline and motivation, promotes understanding and communication with others, and prepares students with real life skills. It is important that we support a creative arts education for our children, and for all people at a community level. Creativity is not necessarily teachable, more importantly it is a quality that needs nurturing and that can be modeled by positive example. Throughout our lifetime we have the ability to learn through experiential creativity, learning by doing the things we love to do. With the back-to-school smell of fall in the air, think about what you love to do and commit to learning something new in a hands-on way. If it’s in your head, touches your heart, comes alive in your hands, and brings you well-being and health, then you are a member of the Art HOPE 4-H Club. Make your best self better by creative learning and doing.

The Art HOPE Youth Service in Healthcare Program is supported by the Bingham Program, a Charitable Endowment of Tufts Medical Center.  The program engages 4-H youth from ages 4 to 18, work-study students, and college interns. Look for more information about this project and other great updates on our website next month.

Celebrate Community Arts

Sea Water Studio Group

Creating and sharing art together

Expressive arts in our local community connect us with others through creative experience. Natural locations, institutions and familiar surroundings can be venues for art making, art taking and art giving. We can make art in community at classes or workshops and with organized groups that focus on our creative interests. We can take art in community at events or performances that feature visual, theatrical, musical or narrative mediums. We can give art in community through supporting local arts projects and by volunteering for creative causes to help others.

When I think of community arts the late, great Pete Seeger comes to mind, and my mental radio can hear and see him teaching uplifting rounds of “if I had a hammer”. The musician activist believed in the power of music to bring people together and was a master of facilitating the creative voice of the individual in harmony with the collective. Now iconic in the American sound landscape, his much-loved folk songs are often musical stories that give hope for a better way. Pete created community through a shared music experience and inspired like-minded art makers and art takers to join in the chorus and be part of something bigger than the individual, bringing people together in an empowered whole. With his simple songs and stringed instrument the artist and teacher recognized the natural healing force of community arts.

Getting together with people to share a creative experience can be a peak experience, a moment when we are in-the-moment doing and enjoying a loved thing with a group. We feel good because there are wellness benefits when creativity is shared communally. The interactive and participatory dynamic of a group promotes listening, looking, learning, and improvising. It gives us a perspective outside of ourselves and a safe place to be ourselves with others. There is creative empowerment in social ecology for the individual and the group. Celebrate community arts in August while days are long and warm. Check out local events calendars and participate in an experience that will bring out the best in you, together with others.

Art HOPE is offering summer fun for art makers and art takers. Our annual Sea Water Studio on Ogunquit Beach will be held on Tuesday, August 19, 10:00 to noon. The program brings people of all ages together with local artists for a lively conversation about creative wellness and fresh air painting studio. And for an organic creative experience, come to the Acton Fair on August 21 & 22. Art HOPE will be hosting the “Happy Art” program in the University of Maine 4-H Pavilion where youth “art givers” will be volunteering their talents to make art cards for people with longterm illness in our community. The Acton Fair is a country classic for arts and crafts, animal husbandry, grassroots education, carnival games, rides, and fried dough. And if you need a little exercise after all the fun, join us for the Art HOPE Creative Wellness Walk at Laudholm Farm on the morning of August 26th for exercise and arts on the great lawn. Join us at our upcoming free events and celebrate community arts!

Recreate and Create!

Lakeside Studio

Special summer spots…

Summer is a time to play in the great outdoors. Maine is called “Vacationland”, a perennial place to recreate and create in a beautiful natural environment. Our state offers limitless organic vistas with miles of rambling rocky coastline, and nearly 3000 lakes and ponds fed by pristine river systems that run through green mountains and valleys. It’s July, and wherever your special summer spot is, get there and get creating. Physical activities and travel get mind, body and spirit moving. Going to a destination where we see places and people, new and familiar, can be inspiring and exhilarating.

Creativity kits are a good thing to have in the field of play. This may be a picnic basket with goodies to eat and read, or a fishing rod with tackle and fresh bait. A creativity kit is something you can personalize with the things you love to do when you can get away and play. I am a painter and my creativity kit includes a set of watercolors with brushes, drawing materials, sketchbook, and paper for various media. Being a fresh air artist I dress for the weather and pack my camera, a bottle of water, snack and all my materials in my well-loved LL Bean tote. It is enjoyable to prepare my creativity kit with the anticipation of getting away, beyond the mundane and the horizon. Continue Reading →