Art Start – A Beautiful Initiative to Bring About a Deep Change
It was in the spring of 1991 that some artists worked with homeless kids to create works of art in New York City. Since then Art Start has rapidly evolved into an award-winning model of national repute that is using the medium of creative arts to engage and improve the quality of life of the ‘at-risk’ youth. The kids associated with Art Start mostly live in city shelters, on the streets, are facing legal battles, or are dependent on crisis afflicted parents.
In some of the city’s loneliest places, Art Start conducts its daily workshops where the ‘at-risk’ youth come together to work with the local teaching artists and educators. These professionals donate their time and guidance to help the youth evolve their creative energies.
Art Start has a model that is purely student centric. The workshops are aimed to instill a confidence in the youth to accept themselves as they are, appreciate it and value their innate qualities. These children are then encouraged to think critically, ask the right questions, and pursue the right opportunities that come their way.
The structure of the workshops is designed to encourage consistency, develop resilience, and give the youth who are facing traumatic transitions a sense of direction. When these children get engaged in media like music and other creative arts, it provides them a strong channel of expression, helping them develop a bond with their teaching artists that is rarely formed through social service or traditional education. These children have a better chance to be emotionally well adjusted as they grow up. The unique characteristic trait that sets Art Start apart from so many other initiatives is that it actually goes to the youth, rather than calling them out, requiring them to overcome their physical and psychological barriers.
In spite of the many hurdles that these kids might have to suffer, they dare to dream, big dreams that may seem unrealistic, considering the lack of opportunities and many challenges. They seem to have a burning desire and a constant untiring will to participate, to create, and to contribute in every manner possible and bring about a meaningful change.
Art Start takes it on as a responsibility to teach the kids how to survive and thrive in the unfavorable conditions with grace, dignity, creativity and hope, and convert an unfavorably transient and unstable phase of their life into one of great personal evolution and progress.