Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Unleashing Creative Little Souls

Name: Olivia Douhan
From: Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Grade: Senior in high school (2017-2018)
School: Pittsfield High School
Votes: 0

 “Do you live on the sun?” A small curious voice asked me. I looked
down at the little kindergarden boy in front of me. Lifting an
eyebrow in confusion, I let his words sink into my head. I imagined
the area around me becoming a fiery flaming inferno, fire sweeping
across the ground burning everything in its path. As bright red,
orange, and yellow flames danced around, I took a few steps and began
running across the molten lava surface. I blinked coming out of my

    Since my sophomore year in high school, once a week for 2 hours in the
spring, I go to Morningside Community School to assist in an after
school art program for elementary school students run by the IS183
Art School. There is one teacher who teaches the class  comes up
with creative art projects and my job is to assist her and the class.
I’ll gather the materials for that day’s project, sometimes even
making an example of the project, and set everything up on the tables
in the art room. The kids will then come pouring into the room like
lava from a volcano and run around the room and I’ll walk around to
help the kids.

    Many of the kids are hyper and excited, making it very hard for them to
stay quiet and listen to what they are going to do for today’s
project. The class is usually split in half: 1/2 want to do the
project and 1/2 don’t really want to be there at all. One of the
greatest challenges that the teacher and I face isn’t always
figuring out what to make, but making sure the kids are actually
trying to make it. Some of these children do not live in stable homes
and might not have the support that children in other neighborhoods
have. They may be stuck in the program, because they don’t have
anywhere to go after school.

   This program gives the children the opportunity to create art and hang out
with their friends in a safe place.  Sitting at the table with
the kids and talking about school and life, gives me an insight of
what goes on in their lives. Listening to their stories, even just
their conversions is hilarious. The kids often don’t realize that
there’s only one of me however and all of them will want me to sit
with them at their table, so I move around. I love watching as their
frustration turns to joy, as they tell me how they want make their
project. Drawing makes me very calm, it’s something that I enjoy
doing very much and I am so happy to share that with these young

    I turned my attention back to the boy staring at me, his eyes as wide
as marbles. Playing along I smiled exclaiming, “Yes, why of
course I do!”  

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