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Bringing youth together through art and storytelling

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Art supplies, including clay and paint, allowed students some time "off-screen" during the virtual school break camp.

Photo: IRC

The IRC in Seattle's Youth Program helps 450+ students each year achieve their educational goals. Despite school building closures due to COVID-19, the Youth Program continues to engage students in fun and educational activities during school and seasonal breaks. During mid-winter vacation, students participated in a virtual "camp" focused on storytelling and art.

The week prior to the camp, IRC staff delivered copies of the book Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti to students. They also delivered arts and crafts supplies to be used throughout the week, which were gathered and donated by community members and coworkers .

Students discussed themes and plots they saw in Anansi the Spider and other stories they have read. Photo: IRC

Each day of camp, a group of 27 students came together to read and learn about plot, theme, and other elements of storytelling using Anansi as an example. Students and staff shared stories cherished by their own families, embracing written and oral traditions of storytelling from all around the world. Art projects followed the reading and discussions, allowing students a chance to look away from the screen. Students used clay to sculpt spiders, painted pictures, and wrote their own short stories to go along with their art.

According to Youth Program staff, bringing art, reading, and family storytelling together gave students a chance to learn from each other. It was also refreshing for students to be able to focus on reading and art, while they were taking a break from their usual Zoom classes. Children have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and school building closures. Creating time for students to express themselves through art and stories is just one way the IRC's Youth Program has continued to help newcomer youth and their families over the past year

If you are interested in supporting IRC Youth Programs, join us for a virtual volunteer information session to learn how you can get involved!