Free Arts Reconnects with Children First Leadership Academy

“I had an adult who told me she believed in me and I felt a bit better”

– Children First Leadership Academy Professional Artists Series participant

After nearly three years, Free Arts reconnected with Children First Leadership Academy (CFLA) in Phoenix and completed a successful Professional Artist Series with the students. Over seven sessions, teaching artists Adriana Martinez, Mei-Kuei Cruise, Kristin Wesley, and Mario Barela brought their art forms and intentional activities to the school with the help of volunteer mentors Temeko Clements and Judith Levin.

Children learned either mixed media visual arts, Chinese arts, watercolor painting, or bucket drumming with their classmates and teachers. Bringing the PAS program to a school setting provides a unique experience for children to connect with their classmates and teachers in different ways. It also provided children with the opportunity to build healthy relationships with Free Arts adults, all while learning new resilience building skills that can be transferred to other areas of their lives.

A common theme that developed during this series was the Free Arts value and expectation of bravery. Many of the children had never experienced Free Arts before and exhibited bravery by jumping in and being willing to learn new skills, being vulnerable, and expressing themselves in new, creative ways. The incredible teachers at CFLA modeled this bravery by truly engaging in art forms and creating alongside their students.

The series ended with a bang on April 22nd with an art show and art walk where children showcased what they had learned and created. There were exciting live performances of bucket drumming, Tai Chi, Chinese yoyos, and an impressive display of visual arts pieces.

As a final wrap to the experience, all children were asked to reflect on what bravery means, represents, or looks like to them, which they then illustrated on a piece of paper. All pieces were compiled into a collaborative artwork keepsake for each classroom to commemorate their participation. Free Arts is very grateful for this partnership with CFLA and is looking forward to making more courageous connections there in the future!

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