I recently volunteered my time at the Down Syndrome Center here in Santa Cruz. I have never really taught children with special needs before so I felt very nervous the day I showed up. The center was very gracious in letting me take photos and post them here for you to see. :) My hope is that it will help them get exposure, attention and financial support. I love the power of blogging!
I went on a bit of a shopping spree to get some art materials and stock myself up. I intend on donating everything to the center. This is a third world country and the center struggles financially. Having a large variety of art materials, is not on their priority list unfortunately.
I was given a small group of 7 children about seven to nine years old. With the help of two very lovely assistants they were all seated around a large table. I had already placed crayons and colored pencils in trays ready for our art lesson.
Down syndrome kids are adorable. Just like any other kid, they are curious and love art! They won me over immediately even before I began the lesson – why was I so nervous? They each got a paper and I showed them how to fill it with lots of color using crayons and pencils.
Next up was painting. While the kids colored in, I worked on another table with the kids who had finished. I watered down three tempera paints to make a wash and the children painted over their crayon pictures. They loved painting and watching the crayon resist the paint. I heard squeals of delight many times along with huge smiles!
Watching these happy faces reinforced for me why I love teaching art so much– it touches the soul!
The next time I see these kids we will cut all the papers into leaves so we can make a tree of life and put this up in the cafeteria to show off what wonderfully talented students they all are. I promise to write a quick post to show you the final product.
This was truly a wonderful experience for me and I recommend you all to do the same if you ever have the opportunity to do so. My admiration goes out to anyone who works with special needs children. It is challenging in so many ways but also incredibly rewarding. I am so glad I did it. :) Do you have a similar experience you would like to share?
I would love to find a way to help the center other than the time and lessons I donate to them–does anyone have any suggestions I could try out?
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