Story of The Week 3/15/2017

The Art of Inclusion

By Bianca Zanella, Revitalization and Homeownership Community Engagement Specialist with NeighborWorks of Western Vermont

As part of the final chapter of planning for the "We Are One Rutland" book project, begun by Alis Headlam, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont collaborated with the Boys & Girls Club of Rutland County for youth art to be included in the book. This book was an adventure into the diversity surrounding us and how it enriches our community for the youth that created it. So, it seemed appropriate for a collage-image that was created by youngsters to be included in the final chapter.

Setting up the art project for little kids at the Boys & Girls Club was so much fun, and we felt ready to craft with paper, scissors, glue, glitter, magazines, and markers on hand. However, when the kids arrived in the art room, we quickly realized that it was going to take a lot of effort to direct their creativity. Seeing how excited the children got before we even told them our goals was inspiring - at such a young age they were willing to experiment with different mediums and have fun with such simple materials. The smiles at the glitter glue warmed my heart immensely!

When we finally got control of the situation and explained our task at hand, the kids started sharing their experiences and definitions of "diversity." Hearing from each of these kids about what diversity meant to them was helpful to me to understand and remember how children interact with the world. Often, they came to the conclusion that diversity meant "people of different skin colors/race were hanging around together." We explained that it meant much more than racial differences, and the importance of inclusion  was immense. It felt like we, as facilitators, were empowering these youth for a better and accepting future generation.

By meeting these little kids from all over the city and helping them cut out magazine pictures to collage their "story of diversity," I felt like I was making a difference, that I was teaching them about something important, and that, hopefully, they were taking away a noteworthy lesson.

VHCB AmeriCorps is a program of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

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