Healing power of creativity – intergenerational joy


September 29, 2018

Photo provided

Chuck Tomlin and Judith Campanaro with Piute Mountain K-2nd graders and their "Kandinsky Circles."

Recently Sally Fields was on "The View" talking about her new book "In Pieces." During the discussion, Fields explained how creative arts have made a major impact on her life. Her statement, "when you take the arts out of the schools, you disallow children the place to explore who they are," really resonated with me. I couldn't agree more.

When children use paint and drawing materials, their fine motor skills improve. Learning creative concepts teaches them to think outside of the box. Experimenting with techniques and supplies often explores science and math concepts. But most of all is the empowerment and self-confidence that art brings to the table. Simple creative activities are the building blocks of child development. And, most importantly, art gives children a voice.

Sadly, despite the impressive benefits of arts education, not every student has access to the benefits of this learning experience. Many schools today are cutting back or have eliminated art entirely from their curriculum due to budget constraints.

And let's not forget the adults. Even adults have an "inner child" who benefits equally from the creative process. Expressive arts have multiple benefits for older adults, especially those who need to manage stress or pain. I was recently having lunch with a friend. We started a discussion about how many times as seniors we feel discounted. My friend said, "now that I'm in my 70s my kids think I don't have a brain." I could totally relate. So what to do? How can two 70 year olds use their wisdom and training to share the arts? How can a rural school with major budget limitations have an art program? The answer to these questions came from The Arts Council of Kern.

David Gordon, Executive Director of the Council, found a grant to make things happen. Chuck Tomlin from Bear Valley and myself have teamed up thanks to the Arts Council and now visit Piute Mountain School in Twin Oaks, near Caliente, every Thursday.

Each week, we two seniors bring supplies and art projects to share with grades K through eighth. They have prepared a curriculum designed specifically for each age group to both foster empowerment and core curriculum. The first and second graders were learning about shapes so they recently did a project based on Kandinsky's "Squares and Concentric Circles." The seventh and eighth graders were introduced to Escher while exploring perspective.

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"I don't know who has more fun, me or the kids," says Tomlin.

I call it intergenerational joy.


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