PREBLE COUNTY — The Preble County Art Association is about to begin its 2018-2019 RISE after-school art program. RISE is an initiative to fill Preble County with art and culture, allowing youth in the county to actively participate in the creative process while learning life skills, responsibility, team-work, and community development.
The program is for middle and high school students and will be held on Thursdays from Sept. 13 through Nov. 15 and Jan. 31 through April 25. RISE participants will learn new artistic techniques and engage in the creation of artworks with a focus on the community.
According to Caitlin Cartwright, Education and Operations Manager for PCAA, the program was created four years ago in partnership with Preble County Juvenile Court.
Initially, the program was for teen boys who had contact with the justice system and could benefit from a mentorship program.
“We worked with the boys and every year they worked with an instructor or artist on a project that was going to be public art,” Cartwright said. “Since that point, [the program] has really grown and we have opened it up to girls, which is wonderful. Now, we work on a referral system. We do outreach to different local community organizations and school.”
“We work closely with parole officers and the school art teachers, success liaisons, principals, and councilors,” she said. “Now we’re connecting more with the community. If they identify kids who they think can benefit from having this positive mentor-ship experience. It has broadened out [over the years].”
“Last summer, we included a work study program,” Cartwright said. “It is really cool. For students who participate throughout the year, there is an opportunity for them to continue on in the summer and it is a job, so they get paid. They’re also learning professional job building skills. They have to fill out an application, get references, but we are walking them through that process.”
“That has been absolutely wonderful,” she added. “It is awesome in RISE to see kids open up. In the work study program, it is a small intimate group. They’re there every day with each other and you see them open up through that. You can see them become more passionate about working as a team. They can have pride and ownership over these projects.”
This fall, PCAA is partnering with Safari Junction. Participants will work to create engaging signs which feature the animal residents throughout the park.
“They reached out to us about wanting us to do a sort of mural. We decided we would do some sort of engaging, colorful, stand up signs. Kind of like a mural, but they will be kind of stand alone. They will be large scale, so they are like mini stand alone murals,” she said.
“We will be depicting the different animals. We will do a site visit and the kids will get a chance to see the animals. At the end, they will go back and see it. They will even have an opportunity to do some on site sketching.”
Kids are coming to this program for various reasons, Cartwright said. They are coming from different backgrounds, but RISE provides them with a safe space where they can be themselves and grow in a positive way.
“This is a place where they bond together and they can be themselves. One of the parents I spoke to recently, her daughter participates, and she was saying that she worries about her daughter. All of her other kids found outlets at school, where they could thrive, but she wasn’t finding that. RISE gave her that outlet,” Cartwright said.
“She has been with us for a few years,” she added. “Over the course of her being in this program, you can see her feeling more confident in herself. It is the value of having something you can be successful at and what that does for your self esteem. She has really put herself out there. It is wonderful for kids to have an experience where they can put in effort and see a tangible result.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH