The 2015 Local Spark Award helped create the Sheboygan Visual Artists (SVA) community art initiative, Kaleidoscope. Aiming to help children and families living in homeless shelters across Sheboygan, the initiative has doubled in participants since receiving the Local Spark award. From 2015 to 2016, 57 workshops were attended by 650 participants. In addition, 13 local artists and volunteers pitched in to make each one of the workshops possible.
The workshops brought excitement to and transformed the different shelters environments. Once children attended and created their first art projects, they became eager and excited for the workshops to return. Judith Schmidt, one of the project leaders, spoke of a child that had a dramatic and inspiring transformation from the workshops.
When Judith and the other volunteers first arrived, they noticed a sad and secluded girl off to the side. Flash forward to a later workshop, the same little girl had a smile from ear to ear and created a self-portrait with the word “Artist” pasted across the bottom of the picture. The workshop not only provided a time to be creative and escape everyday life, but also gave these children a sense worth and a new way to think and feel about themselves.
Initially designed and targeted for children, Kaleidoscope expanded beyond original expectations and provided as much enjoyment to the parents as to the children. Moms and Dads were enthusiastic and wanted to join in on the fun. In addition, project leaders saw the need to supply art packs (glue, markers, etc.) to these children for the summer months while the workshops are not in session. Offering basic supplies to these children allows them to continue to create and express themselves, providing a luxury that most kids and families take advantage of. Studies have shown that children involved in creative arts are less likely to be involved in criminal activities-truly making this initiative a preventative program that has the ability to impact the community for generations to come.
To future Local Spark submitters, Schmidt encouraged individuals to go ahead and apply. “The process is easy and you can’t even begin to measure the benefits that it will have on the community” she said. Schmidt went on to talk about how “children [in the shelter] now talk about wanting to be artists when they grow up”. Kaleidoscope, with help from the Local Spark Award has given Sheboygan children hope and inspiration for their futures.