free arts Volunteer News January 2011

"The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep." ~Paul Strand


Thoughts from Northside Team Leader - Julia

Hi all! In addition to being a mentor with Free Arts, I am also an intern. Both experiences have been a nice compliment to one another as they allow me to connect on a personal level with youth and understand the overall picture of this organization.

Julia ImageAs a mentor, I feel I've made a difference for my kids, but it is sometimes hard to remember the big picture of this amazing organization. Until recently, I hadn’t visited sites where Free Arts works besides Northside, where I mentor. Free Arts sites vary tremendously; some being transitional housing programs, residential treatment centers and schools modeled on various therapies (art being one of them!). From these visits, the differences are more visible than ever. Measures are needed to adapt curriculum, introductions and rituals based on the unique needs of each site. What we all have in common is that we are all volunteers doing the same thing: Being caring, thoughtful and reliable adults in the lives of the kids Free Arts serves. It is most rewarding to see the dynamics of each group working with the unique characteristics of their site. For some who are still struggling to find the best way to reach their youth, remember that your efforts and resiliency are seen by site staff and youth! For my mentorship group, developing a rhythm was vital, and the following is an idea that we used to close each session and for you to try.

At the end of each session, each child gets the opportunity to write one word on a poster (8”x10”) that relates to the day’s project. This word can be an emotion, medium, theme or topic. Week after week the words layer upon one another and eventually create a masterpiece. Our group of volunteers decided to frame and give the word wall to our kids as a memory of the Free Arts session. In addition, it encourages another art form that is less traditional. It can be challenging sometimes as kids are afraid to write over other words, but as the layers build, it takes on a life of its own! Feel free to try it out during this session or I encourage you to develop your own way to allow the children to take something with them!


BIg Thanks!

We owe a big thank you to Jeanette for leading improv games at January mentor training. It is talented volunteers like Jeanette that make our program as strong and successful as it is.

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Also, we would like to express our appreciation to Colle+McVoy for allowing us to use their wonderful space for our training!

weekly survey

Team leads: Please fill out your weekly survey! These surveys are critical to Free Arts and allow us to document how many children we are helping. Bring a small notepad and write down the information you will need for the survey. This survey should not take longer than 10 minutes per week and it will provide Free Arts with valuable information. You will find the survey on the website under the volunteer section, or by following this link.



Our Community

Our January mentor training was a HUGE success. We introduced over 35 new mentors into Free Arts- we are excited to have you as an addition to our program! Welcome!

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We are pleased to announce that this session we have started up 6 new weekly mentorship groups. We are excited about our new partnerships with McDonough Rec Center, Dayton’s Bluff Rec Center, and the Jeremiah Project. All of these groups will allow us to reach even more children with the healing power of art!

Look for upcoming information regarding mentorship workshops and fun appreciation events!


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FEATURED PROJECT: Improvisation games

Group feeling slow because of the cold winter weather? Have some extra time left after a project is completed? As we learned in training, getting up and doing improv is a fantastic form of expression that gets everyone's minds and bodies moving. For some creative improvisation activities and games for kids of all ages, click here to download. Remember: acting skills are not required; these activities are a great way to get everyone involved and have some fun!

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Mentor TIPs

As we begin the session, many new mentors are joining the program and some returning mentors have new group placements. Building strong relationships between mentor and mentee can sometimes be a challenge (but also SO rewarding!) For tips and information regarding the growth cycles of a relationship download this PDF.

Mentors can find lots of useful resources regarding our program on the website. Visit at any time for facility information and directions, curriculum ideas, important forms, upcoming opportunities, and even more tips and tricks.

A great way to begin and end each session is with a creative ritual. This can range from giving high-fives to going around and sharing favorite parts of the day. Rituals are a fantastic way to build trust and designate Free Arts time.

Get to know the staff onsite at your facility! In order to ensure the maximum success for the children in our program, it is important for Free Arts mentors to partner with the on-site staff. Building a relationship with the staff makes getting questions answered, expressing concerns, and bouncing ideas off of one another that much simpler.