â€œThe kids come in here and know that no one is judging them. They donâ€™t have to do it for a grade. They donâ€™t have to do it the way we tell them because art is kind of free; you can make it what you want it to be. You donâ€™t have to color in the lines over here,â€ said Donna Dean, manager, Arts & Crafts Center.
Art helps to develop kidsâ€™ imaginations, helps them to express themselves in ways that they canâ€™t usually. Sometimes they canâ€™t find the words to express things but when you give them materials to use, things that they want to say come out in those other ways through their hands, developing things on paper or sculpturing or clay. It is a good way for them to express themselves, said Christen Scofield, art specialist, youth instructor.
â€œWe just had the first just childrenâ€™s sewing class, and we made a pillow. They started with a quilt square to help them get comfortable with the machine and sewing straight lines, and then they got to walk out with the piece,â€ said Scofield on one of the classes offered to youth at the Fort Huachuca Arts & Crafts Center for the 10 to 12 year-olds. â€œThey felt self-accomplishment when they left. They were all very thrilled. And they actually did a lot better than some of my adults.â€
â€œWe pride ourselves on being a stress-free environment. Itâ€™s fun firstly; secondly research shows that children who participate in art and art projects, it helps with their reading, math skills. We try to incorporate that into the art, also,â€ said Dean.
â€œIt gives them a sense of accomplishment when they finish a project. It introduces them to different artists and the world of art. We try to take them to a place that they have never been, that is fun, introduce them to mediums that they may never ever have the opportunity to use again,â€ said Dean. â€œLike glass fusing â€” we introduced our middle schoolers to that. Itâ€™s a beautiful art and itâ€™s new to us, so we particularly wanted to introduce it to the kids,â€ Dean said.
Itâ€™s important for the smaller kids to develop their small-and gross-motor skills, and to learn about primary and secondary colors. â€œAnd who knows who might be the next famous artist or interior designer or potter or painter, you just donâ€™t know so you want to develop that side of the brain. And, of course, itâ€™s fun and social, and the kids can giggle and laugh,â€ Dean said.
The words of one young girl speak volumes.
â€œEverything is my favorite part of art. I am an artist,â€ said Madison Fieldsherring, 9.
Even the parents get involved.
â€œSome of the parents sit in on the classes to see what their kids are doing and they take projects home. Thatâ€™s cool, too because not only are we introducing the kids, but the kids are taking it home and introducing it to the parents,â€ Dean said. â€œWith the small kids, you see more progress, because they will do anything. They will stick their hand in anything and they donâ€™t care.
â€œWhen we do sand art, the preschoolersâ€™ hands will fit right in the container, and sometimes they donâ€™t want to put the sand on the paper with the glue, sometimes they just want to stick their hand in the sand and play with it, which is great. Itâ€™s great tactile learning for them, and to me thatâ€™s just fabulous â€” thatâ€™s just as important as putting that sand on the paper,â€ Dean said.
â€œAll of us here, my entire staff has a real passion for teaching not only adults but also kids, to see them grow and learn and have fun,â€ Dean said.
â€œIt is an amazing opportunity not just for crafts but for children to socialize,â€ said one parent, Sgt. 1st Class Tony Lindo, whose daughter Kianna, 7, participates in Hooked on Art. Kianna said it is â€œfun â€” we get to paint.â€
On Wednesday mornings, from 10 to 11 a.m., a â€œMommy and Me,â€ class, for preschoolers and their moms, is offered. The staff helps children develop fine motor and growth motor skills through art and they do everything from painting and clay to building Easter baskets. Every week it is something different, but every week they go home with something, so they feel successful. The cost is $3. Registration is not required.
â€œWe feel that moms are busy enough without having to remember to cancel, so we prepare for 20 kids. Itâ€™s a great time for the kids to socialize and for the moms to learn how to do art that they can take home and do at home,â€ Dean said.
On Wednesday afternoons, from 4 â€“ 5:30 p.m., is â€œHooked on Art,â€ a partnership with the Child, Youth and Student Services, EDGE program. The EDGE program pays for the classes so children can attend for free. It it is open to any child in first through fifth grade who are registered at CYS.
â€œWe have an excellent curriculum, where the kids learn about different media, learn about art and artists and try to emulate art by artists. Itâ€™s a good class, and itâ€™s filled. We have 25 slots,â€ Dean said.
Thursdays at 4 p.m. is â€œHooked on Artâ€ for middle school youth; it is exactly the same thing as the Wednesday class but more advanced. High school-aged youth are also invited to participate.
On the second Friday of every month, a homeschoolers class is held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. It costs $10 per child, and they work on similar projects to â€œHooked on Artâ€ but it is open to all ages, elementary to high school, but the parent stays with them.
Birthday parties can be held at the facility year-round for â€œpick it and paint it.â€
â€œWe have bisque (ceramic figurines) which is ready to paint. The kids pick a piece, and the parents can have one of our rooms and they can bring in pizza, cake, everything. We have the kids about 45 minutes and then the parents have the room for two and half hours to do cake and presents, it is 10 dollars per child, and (they must) register in advance because it fills up, one birthday party a Saturday,â€ Dean said.
Other classes offered to youth are cake decorating, wheel-thrown pottery and ceramics for those 13 and older. For youth 16 and older, calligraphy class, digital photography, framing, and glass slumping and fusing are offered.
For more information, call 533.5550 or 533.2015.