This post was contributed by AmeriCorps Museum Educator Kerrie Hoban, a member of a team serving in the greater Providence Head Start centers operated by Children's Friend.
Providence Children’s Museum does educational outreach to low-income children and families through its AmeriCorps program and our AmeriCorps members also have the opportunity to do their own independent outreach projects.
For my independent project, I recently painted a mural on the bottom floor of Cianci Head Start preschool. The opportunity came at a point in the year when I was thinking a lot about how important art making is to children in encouraging them to feel like strong individuals.
Noticing that some of the walls of Cianci Head Start center were more notably decorated than others, I brought my ideas about painting a mural to Kim Pettaway (head teacher). She loved the drawings I showed her, inspired by the children’s book “I Am An Artist” by Pat Lowery Collins, and we talked a lot about community and how important that is to the families at Head Start. When I shared my idea for the theme of the mural, which is to encourage children and families to feel powerful when they are a part of the world (their community), she immediately told me to get to work!
Excited and armed with a brush and some drawings, I began painting the blank walls. The staff at the center was very supportive and excited and brought me water and materials when I didn’t even ask. The teachers seemed happy to have a new face in the building doing something for the children and families, even for a short while. Ultimately the best moments were the kids’ reactions of awe and surprise as they saw the wall come to life with each passing day. As groups of 3 and 4 year olds passed through the hallways to go to the playground they used their hands to mimic the image they saw, traced letters on the wall, and made observations like “that looks like me”!