Imagine the place you feel safest. Most of you would probably say it is at home, possibly in your favorite chair, or sitting around the kitchen table with your family. At the urban high school where I teach art, “safe” is not a word my students would use to describe their homes or neighborhoods.
Why are students in urban schools in danger? Maybe because society keeps saying “no” to them. No, you don’t deserve schools as good as those in the suburbs. No, we can’t afford to keep your neighborhood safe. No, you won’t amount to anything. When they’ve been told “no” their whole lives, is it really no surprise that these students want to say “yes” to drugs, gangs, abusive relationships, or becoming parents before they’ve even finished school?
It breaks my heart when I have to say “no” to them too. I run an after-school art club where students can work on simple craft projects like customizing jewelry boxes or decorating tote bags for their friends. They’re the sort of projects you might have done in Scouts or at church, but to them, it’s a new opportunity.
Even when they are working on small projects, these students can see what it means to take pride in their work. They can express their individuality or make a gift for someone they love. Perhaps most importantly, the club keeps them off the streets for the critical hours when they are out of reach of a parent or guardian.
Yet there are many weeks when I have to say “no” to students who want to come to art club. I just don’t have money to buy supplies every week, especially when I often need to purchase the materials for my regular classes. My school district barely funds art in the classroom to begin with, so money for an after-school program is out of the question.
These students need a place where no one says “no.” Art club is just such a place, provided I don’t have to say “no” at the door. Please help me keep that door open. I need various craft materials such as jewelry supplies, markers, and bookmaking and scrapbook materials to help keep my club moving. Please say “yes” to these students. They will be so glad to say “thank you!”
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