At Ciudad Nueva, we believe in the value of human connection to foster an environment of empowerment for our community. Over 2 days of spring break, we held an art camp that brought 25 students together across all grades of our programming to create, connect, reflect, and unwind.
From 1-5 pm each day, our staff and volunteers joined elementary, middle school, and high school students in art workshops and reflection sessions. As they explored a variety of mediums and styles, we were excited to see their enthusiasm and creativity flourish through the new skills they learned and the relationships they made..
Our talented Kids Create Coordinator, Drew Holgiun, started the day by leading the group through a series of activities to help everyone let loose and get in the creative flow. Participants tried their hand at “contour line drawings,” an exercise of sketching various objects without looking at the paper and then explored “gesture drawing,” quickly capturing Drew on paper as he made goofy poses.
Next, they set out to explore watercolor techniques by capturing a colorful variety of live plants, provided by a staff member, on paper. Some participants focused intently to perfect each detail, while others unleashed a splash of color and energy.
On day two, the creativity continued as intergenerational art camp created various abstract art pieces. Bananas, which were originally going to be used as a snack, became the object of the first project. Drew shared how creative the kids were — they took an ordinary object like a banana and transformed it on their paper.
“They took the basic shape and made different patterns and colors,” he said. “We had kids making them into characters!” Using collage techniques, participants transformed photos from National Geographic magazines to make new works of art.
When people come together through a creative activity, they often find opportunities to talk and listen to one another. After the collage and painting session, our two Master of Social Work interns Clara and Akua guided the group through art-focused reflection activities. The first contemplative activity helped participants monitor their breathing and use drawing to learn more about it. Breaking into two groups, the artists drew lines to create a “map of their breathing.” Akua and Clara encouraged participants to take control of their breathing to decrease stress.
Then, Akua and Clara led the group through another reflective art activity. Children, youth, and adults talked about their feelings and about how they respond to various emotional stimulation. Given a list of words describing emotions, they charted how they felt using color. Many students took the opportunity to open up about their home lives, stresses they experience, and what helps them to balance their emotions.
As Drew reflected on the camp experience, he shared that people’s feelings are real and important, even in the youngest of children: “Life for kids seems simple from an adult’s perspective. Don’t discredit kids because you think they have less life experience.”
“We need to take the time to really listen to the lives and experiences of kids, because it’s all they know. Their little problems may seem trivial, but they matter too.”
Our team at Ciudad Nueva strives to create safe spaces for these important conversations. Children and adults alike have a need for human connection. Creativity and fun can open the door to growing new friendships and acknowledging the struggles we all face. Our programs often involve giving people the opportunity to discuss heavy topics or feelings. Through our Spring Break Art Camp, participants expressed themselves artistically but also made real, important connections.
We hope that more creatives, young and old, will join us in future program events. We are so proud of our participants and are thankful for their willingness to open up and connect with us. We love having them in our program and neighborhood!