Project RISE Takes Families Experiencing Housing Transitions to the Akron Art Museum

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On July 29th, Project RISE took a group of 30 mothers and children experiencing homelessness on a special field trip to the Akron Art Museum. The attendees were residents of the Safe Landing Shelter for teen girls, Catholic Worker and ACCESS, Inc. Project RISE (Realizing Individual Strength through Education), is a federally funded program that aims to remove educational barriers to homeless children. The program offers supplemental educational services and other programs to students and families experiencing homelessness.

Participants started off the field trip with a guided tour of several areas in the art museum, showcasing many different styles and types of artwork.

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Participants Enjoy Guided Tour by Chris Paringer

The students and parents were broken into three age groups and were lucky to have three wonderful docents guiding them: Esther Hexter, Chris Paringer and Patty Falls. Ms. Hexter worked with the teen group. She very much enjoyed the tour and meeting the group, saying: “They were bright eyed, eager to enjoy new experiences and great “museum goers”.  One or two had been there before, but most were first time visitors. I wish I had brought a tape recorder to capture some of the wonderful comments they shared. They were curious and had questions of their own, and great interpretations of the art!”

After the guided tour, attendees were taken into the museum’s studio for a craft activity  led by RISE Staff member, Olivia Jerkes. Ms. Jerkes led the group in a wonderful activity centered around Van Gogh’s Sunflower painting. To begin the activity, Ms. Jerkes talked about Van Gogh and showed pictures of his work.

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With help from other Project RISE staff members, shelter staff and volunteers, the children were able to make their own sunflower pictures using chalk pastels.

After the art activity, students were given the opportunity to write about their experiences that day. Some wrote thank you notes to their docents while others wrote poems describing their favorite painting or experience in general. It was a wonderful way for them to reflect on what they had seen and done. At the conclusion of the activity, many students chose to share their work and were met with very positive responses. 

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RISE Staff Member, Olivia Jerkes, Guides the Art Activity

After the story and activity time, participants were able to play in the studio. The children loved the interactive play areas that were set up. This proved to be a great way to end the day for them.

Project RISE would like to thank the Akron Art Museum for the opportunity to take these special families on this field trip.  For more information about educational programs, you may call Gina Thomas McGee, Associate Educator, at 330.376.9186 x247. The Akron Art Museum is located at One South High in Akron, Ohio. More information can be found on their website: www.AkronArtMuseum.org.

During the 2014-2015 school year, close to 1,800 children were served through Project RISE. For more information about Project RISE and how you can help, please contact Debra Manteghi at 330-761-2730 or dmantegh@akron.k12.oh.us.

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