AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Contemporary Austin hopes to inspire creativity all summer long for children from certain Title I schools, turning a lack of art supplies at home into an abundance.
Its staff assembled more than 1,500 age and grade-specific kits containing supplies including:
- Art paper
- Colored pencils
- Glue sticks
- Watercolor paints and more
All of this is thanks to donations by two board of trustees members.
“It’s surreal. It’s amazing. You know, they were here helping out with the kit-making… It’s really nice to know that there are still people thinking about the rest of the community even while all of this craziness is going on,” Contemporary Austin bilingual program educator Idanea Gomez said.
The staff distributed kits Tuesday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 1 at their Laguna Gloria location. Today’s drive-thru pick-up focused on Boone Elementary – one of four schools served:
- Barbara Jordan Elementary
- Boone Elementary
- Galindo Elementary
- Pleasant Hill Elementary
Principals and art teachers from each joined in to help. Boone’s art teacher Jennifer Schroeder, who handed out kits both days, was moved by the response from everyone, especially the kids.
“It makes me feel very happy and fulfilled knowing that they have an outlet, they’re going to be able to have an outlet and therapy through art at home during this time. It’s been amazing,” she said.
“Yesterday, the turnout was awesome… I was getting notifications that as soon as kids were getting home, there were pictures posted of them making art and using the materials right away. They have just been so happy. It made me actually cry several times yesterday just cause they were so grateful and so happy and excited.”
The museum started the kit distribution as a continuation of their Seeing Special Things program, which was cut short due to COVID-19. It’s a way for them to reconnect families, Gomez said. Every child who received a kit attends the schools listed above and has taken part in the program during the 2019-2020 school year.
The art museum and school said that while some children enjoy an activity-filled summer organized by parents and caregivers, many from Austin’s Title I schools consist of a student base where at least 40% come from low-income families, and this affects parents’ purchases for their kids.
“We haven’t been able, we haven’t gone to any stores during this whole time, and so it’s really hard for me to even know what to get for my kids. I’m not artistic at all and so for them to put this together, I’m already thinking about what supplies we can use, what kind of crafts we can put together – that’s just been really thoughtful and helpful for us,” parent Terri Koen said.
“Just having those materials available to you and at the ready is so amazing, because we know students are missing school, students are missing their friends, students are missing their teachers and so it’s been really rewarding to see this process all the way through,” Gomez said.
AISD administrators are also considering the new virtual learning climate for the fall and the kits might help the district determine what kinds of materials home art-making will require.
Koen is accepting if her kids have to strictly learn online but she’s keeping her fingers crossed they’ll be able to return. However, she does question that.
“Maybe we can just send them once a week, but what we’ve seen from AISD is if somebody in the class gets sick, everyone’s gotta quarantine for 14 days, so how many days can we really send our kids if there are cases popping up left and right?” she asked.
“I mean they obviously thrive much better in a school environment, but we have a lot of worries about, you know all of the cases keep going up. Is it safe for our kids to go? Is it safe for the teachers and the staff to be exposed as well? So we’re kind of fingers crossed things get better by August but I have a lot of worries that we’re probably gonna end up being at home for the bulk of the year.”