YMCA Impact Story: Portraits and Role Modeling

This article was originally shared on the Boulder Valley YMCA blog while I was a staff member at a local elementary school. It depicts a connection I made with the kids around art and how one student in particular inspired and impacted me.

Bianca -- Impassioned about books and exciting stories, she will tell you all about them!

For the past couple of weeks I have been sitting down with kids in our after school program and drawing their portraits for an upcoming fundraiser. I'm an art student, so it's a wonderful gift to be able to capture their kind faces, brimming with compassion and fantastic potential. One of the young girls in our group likes to peer over my shoulder as I sketch. She monitors the students close by, ensuring they give me adequate space to concentrate and aren't too noisy (this is a self-appointed position, by the way!). She is so quiet and light-footed, I can hardly tell she is there! One time when the kids were being particularly loud, I glanced over and saw her cutting "ear muffs" out of construction paper. I wasn't sure why. I just found it endearing that she had these paper ear covers on, thoroughly testing them with a look of scrutiny on her face. A moment later, she brightly placed them on my head, making sure they fit properly. To my surprise, they actually blocked out significant noise. Impressed and chuckling, I returned to drawing. I don't like to make the kids wait too long; they put heartfelt effort into being still and present. I draw them only if they request it, so they are empowered to have the experience by their own choosing. Recently, the young girl asked to view my sketchbook. While flipping through the pages together, she suddenly glared into my eyes with the most intent I've ever seen a child embody and exclaimed "I can't believe I'm looking at my future self!! I'm going to be an artist! I can't believe this!" Taken aback with much surprise, I smiled nervously realizing the depth of the role she just assigned me. I have never been looked up to this way. I feel moved that a child would see such potential in the space between us. he is exceedingly talented, but noticeably hard on herself. I will do my best to soften that critical edge as a caring cheerleader for her flourishing creativity. These kids gift us with so much generosity and love simply by seeing greatness in us. As I sketch their delicate portraits, I am honored to "face" the future and grateful for meaningful work that enables me to do so. I graduated from my art program in May and left my position at the school to move to Washington. I genuinely miss those kids!

~Natasha You can view the original post here! www.ymcabv.org/blog/y-impact-story-art-soul/

Keylie -- Wants to be a famous actress when she grows up. This girl can sing!

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