Thursday, February 15, 2007

Elementary school students create knapsacks for foster youth

Art club creates a gift to give foster kids a lift
Burnette, Darrel. Louisville Courier-Journal, Feb. 14, 2007, pg. G5.

When social worker Marjorie Shular takes children from their homes to place them in foster care, it's often in the middle of the night and the children are unable to take many possessions with them.

They're lucky if they have something to carry their stuff in, Shular said. They usually use giant garbage bags or paper grocery bags.

The Buckner Art Guild, an after-school program at Buckner Elementary School, wanted to help fix that.

So last month, the group of 25 students created knapsacks with encouraging messages for foster children.

"Maybe when they look at the bag, they'll be happy," said Ashley Selsor, a 10-year-old fourth-grader.

Ashley made a knapsack with a smiley face on the back and the slogan, "Be happy."

The art guild gave the bags to Shular, who works for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Shular said she will try to distribute the bags to foster children in Oldham and Shelby counties.

"These kids are really going to benefit from these gifts," she said.

The art guild meets once a week after school for six weeks. Projects include ceramic bowls, weaving baskets and papier-m√Ęche.

Art teacher Rae Schooley said she wanted the students to understand the concept of giving and community service.

"I want them getting to think about how to benefit others with art, rather than being self-centered," she said.

"They have to have something nice to carry things around," said Ally Reinert, a 9-year-old third-grader. Ally painted a horse on her bag.

A parent volunteer sewed the bags. Students used acrylic paint to write messages of encouragement and draw things such as butterflies, smiley faces and baseballs.

Allie Houk, a 9-year-old fourth-grader, said she didn't mind giving away art to anonymous children because it was going to a good cause.

"It makes me feel good because I know that I've helped someone else," she said.

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