The Uptown Art Program celebrated another successful year of helping children create art at the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre.
Pottery creations including masks, bowls and cups were all on display alongside classic paintings, drawings and pour art medallions. Around a dozen or so people were in attendance at the show Tuesday, Dec. 17, enjoying some pizza and conversation as they took in the gentle ambiance.
Shelley Neufeld, the child youth care and family support worker at the CCCDC, said they’ve been running this program for about the last four years. Each year they apply for funding from the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society that provides them with funds courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District and the City of Williams Lake.
Neufeld said the grant is greatly appreciated as it pays for facilitators from the Cariboo Potters Guild and other artists and art groups in town to come in and teach the children various crafts and disciplines.
“It’s a very comfortable program for the children because they don’t feel pressured (to do things a certain way) we’re just kind of there to support them with whatever their project is going be,” Neufeld said.
Most of the children and teens that attend the art program typically don’t have access to other art programs and need a little bit of extra support, she said. For those with anxiety, Neufeld said most find they’re able to attend this program, and those that still needed support had their parents there to help them before eventually attending on their own.
The program begins in June and runs weekly until the end of December, usually on a Monday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Each year they try to add and incorporate new forms of art the children can experiment with as they did with fibre arts this year. Often times they’ll base their plans around what those in the program say they’re interested in, meaning they’d be open to doing performing arts like drama should interest be shown in it.
“I think (what I enjoy) the most is just seeing the kids be able to show their creativity no matter how it comes out. They get comfortable socially with each other so you start seeing them supporting one another, especially the older with younger ones who, if they see them struggling, they’ll actually get up to go and help them,” Neufeld said.
Next year they hope to do more work with the Williams Lake Spinners, Weavers and Fibre Artists Guild and get some of the older teenagers working on looms.
Doing something with dance is something Neufeld wanted to do this year but was unable to arrange so she hopes to implement it next year.
On and off this year, Neufeld said, they had around 13 children and teens take part in the program throughout the year.
She feels this program is a great way to foster and inspire an interest in the arts for young children and introduce them to organizations they might join themselves in the future.
Helping them find out who they are artistically in a safe environment is also another reason Neufeld feels the program should continue to receive support.
One of the young artists that took part in the program was Sydney Hamm who was in attendance with her siblings and parents at the art show. She said she and the other children made “all kinds of stuff really” including masks, ornaments, plates, paintings and other assorted items.
Hamm said she wanted to take part in the program because it sounded cool and because she enjoys drawing, which she thinks of as a natural talent. Her favourite project they did was clay mask making, which became personal for her when she chose to make a mask of her dog Bogey, a nine-year-old German Shepherd her family had to put down this year.
“It felt pretty good (to make the mask) because I know I’d be able to see him more than just in pictures, I’d be able to see him a little more often,” Hamm said.
Given the chance, Hamm said she would definitely attend the Uptown Art Program again next year because of how fun it was and how little pressure was a part of the whole process. She’d invited any lakecity child interested in taking part to come by the CCCDC next year and check it out.