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We are typically loud and proud with our kiddos at Art Feeds but we keep our personal matters very private. I struggled with whether or not to post this because I don’t believe in promoting negativity in any way. I’m going to share something with you that I think speaks to something bigger.
A few years ago we received a beautiful gift from the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team. A Winnebago converted into a Mobile Art Center, completely equipped with the supplies and tools we needed to reach more students with Art Feeds programs. That was the year when we felt proud that we had 700 students on our roster each week, this year we have 4,500. The Mobile Art Center, we know as “Van Gogh” has embodied our mission of mobile programming to meet students where they are, with all-inclusive lessons regardless of diverse needs or backgrounds. (You can see us cry all over ourselves here.)
Yesterday we were preparing to bring our beloved Van Gogh to a community event and found the inside ransacked. Someone had broken in and stolen the sound system, any other valuables and ripped the wiring out of the front of the dash. This breaks our hearts and feels incredibly violating. We are unsure with the damage to the wiring in the front if Van Gogh will ever be able to hit the road again. As we looked around the bus that is covered with photos of our little artists, we wondered why someone would do this to a vehicle that is not only ours, but belongs to thousands of children in our community.
It’s been a week that has weighed heavy on our hearts. With local news and tragedies paired with this violating act.
I wanted to be furious. But I found my heart telling me something else instead. As I looked around the bus yesterday morning one thought rang clearly in my head, “THIS is why we do what we do”. At Art Feeds, we work weekly to give students the environment they can thrive in- an environment where students express their emotions and build their creative capacities. We work to build up kindness, confidence, self-worth, creative problem solving and so much more. Why? Because we believe that children are the most important members of our society and have a hugely valuable resource of creativity, innovation, and imagination. That what happens to our community children during their years of development is incredibly important. We want them to grow into the kind of adults that give of themselves to others. The kind of adults that work to solve a problem several ways when things get hard. Adults that work to build each other up, not tear each other down. Most of all, adults that don’t hurt others to get what they want. As gross as yesterday felt, it’s the best reminder of why we need to keep working as hard as possible at Art Feeds to help our students continue to thrive as kind, creative, innovative and resilient kiddos.
What’s that they say about lemons? Paint them gold? We don’t have an agenda for vengeance or an “eye for an eye” attitude. We want to disrupt the system and do something differently. In response to what has happened we don’t want anger or outrage, but rather we are starting a week of Art Feeds Random Acts of Kindness. A week that promotes SO MUCH LIGHT in the world that it shines into all the darkness.
Three easy steps to perform your own #ArtFeedsRAOK:
1. THINK: Some ideas for simple Random Acts of Kindness are: taping compliments to the ground, leaving notes on windshields, paying for the person behind you in the drive thru, surprising a stranger with an impromptu tap dancing performance, WHATEVER! Get creative, get out of your comfort zone and dream big.
2. IMPLEMENT: Take a deep breath, think of those people smiling big & go for it.
3. DOCUMENT: Use hashtag #ArtFeedsRAOK to show us what you conjured up! Follow us on Instagram to see what we’ve been up to too.
Thanks for joining with us. Steal the thunder from violation & tragedy & stuff it full of good stuff. Like kid giggles. And bear hugs. And Sour Patch Kids.
Love Naively. Give Generously. Be Foolishly Compassionate.
Meg Bourne Hulsey
Founder | CEO