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Changing Children’s Self-Perceptions

By Lauren Highfill

 

Diana Gregory

Winner of the national Weed & Seed poster contest, Elizabeth Prieto. She created her poster in Gregory's class.

Children from the Las Colinas program viewing their artwork

in the Visual Arts Building.

Last year, in the struggling but resilient Franklin Road area in Marietta, kids ages six to 15 gathered twice a week after school at the Las Colinas apartment complex. In the apartment’s community center, these kids took part in a life skills training program as a part of the federal government’s Weed and Seed program to improve communities. The life skills training strives to enhance the community by improving these kids’ ideas about themselves through workbooks and practice exercises. But, for last year’s program, there was still an untapped resource that could help accomplish this goal—art.

KSU Assistant Professor of Art Education Diana Gregory was approached by Giovanni Diaz, former staff assistant at the Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research, to add to the program at Las Colinas. Gregory says she and Diaz believed that “it’s important for the program to not only have a cognitive behavioral approach, but also to use art to really change and impact the children’s attitudes and the way they see themselves.”

Gregory, along with recent KSU graduate Gale Connelly, worked with the kids at Las Colinas once a week doing several art projects, one of which was for the annual Weed and Seed poster contest. For the contest, the kids were asked to create a poster that showed what the program had done for them and their community. One of Gregory’s students, fourth-grader Elizabeth Prieto, won the national award in Washington D. C. for her poster.

At the end of the school year, the Las Colinas children’s artwork was put on display in the Visual Arts Building at KSU. The students took a field trip to campus to see their art displayed. As the students viewed their work on the walls, Gregory says some of the children asked in disbelief, “Are people really going to see this?”

Gregory says, “The process of working on their art and seeing it displayed in public came back around to these life skills. The kids learned what it means to be self-confident and were able to understand what it means to be an individual.”

 

 

 

 

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