“Young at Art” in Ocean Beach Unleashes Kids’ Creativity

by on April 29, 2016 · 1 comment

in Culture, Education, Media, Ocean Beach

Young at Heart art 4 kidsChildren’s Creative Center Art Show & Fundraiser – Saturday, April 30

By Ruth McGraw

Drawing and painting were always easy for me. When I was five, I drew a giant green peace sign on my parents’ freshly painted wall. Needless to say they were less than pleased, but that was when I knew I wanted to paint every wall, every where.

In what feels like a former life, I served in the Marine Corps and then as a Civil Service agent, and achieved my bachelors in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. I am very proud of my service and grateful for the friendships made and life lessons learned.

However, those days are passed. I finally realized that the taxing paranoia of constantly waiting for the “worst case scenario” was inhibiting my growth as a person. I was tired of expecting and seeing the bad in the world.

Sixteen years ago, prior to joining the Marine Corps, I enrolled in art school in upstate New York close to the town where I grew up. After a very short time at school, and after the events of September 11th, I started believing the the path I laid before me as a future artist would not benefit anyone other than myself.

After a friend and I promised each other to join the Marines, I quickly dropped out of art school and enlisted. Much to my dismay, that friend never ended up enlisting. My father, nearly as mad as when I drew that peace sign on the wall, chased me around the house ready to kill me. Mainly due to the wasted money that was just spent on all those art supplies for school.

Today, I am an art teacher at Young at Art in Ocean Beach, San Diego. It is a local nonprofit that brings art to the children of our small community. Art classes have been dropped from many of the public schools in San Diego so this is the only opportunity some of these kids have to experiment with different art projects.

The creative center provides lessons in oil, acrylic, watercolors painting, pastels, photography, ceramics and more. The director, Kim Howell, is an amazing woman. Her vision for the school is giving these children and the community the gift of creativity. Each class is small, with a few teachers so no child is overlooked. Although I have not been there long, it is perfectly clear to me that being an artist is very different than what I thought it was in those days before I joined the Marine Corps.

At Young at Art we want them to go nuts, get dirty, make a mess, be a kid. Children are already creative, so essentially we are nurturing that skill. Otherwise it is lost. Continuously being told to color in the lines and follow the rules, will in time strip them of the desire to do something different or try something new.

We want them to stand out; to be bold. Every time one of our kids says, “I never thought I could do that” or “look what I did” I see their confidence build, and it makes my heart melt. And I know we are on the right track. The other teachers and I can see every day that we are making a clear, positive impact on these children.

Teaching art enables me to use my talents as an artist for the benefit of others and it helps me see how much beauty is in the world.

Want to join the fun? We’d love to have you as a guest at our annual fundraiser on April 30. It’s almost entirely supported by the OB community–another piece of this nonprofit that brings so much joy. At our fundraiser, you can bid on some of the children’s artwork, win cool prizes from local business and give cash donations that help us extend our work to less fortunate children.

Perhaps, at the very least, we can convince you to put the grown up away for a few hours, and revel in the joy of getting dirty like a kid.

The Young at Art Children’s Creative Center Art Show & Fundraiser runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 30. Tickets are $10 for Adults & $5 for Participating Artists and Children and can be purchased at the Young At Art Center or at the door at the event.

For more information,  visit Young at Art , or contact Kim Howell at (619) 459-1955.

Ruth McGraw is the CEO Marvel Tactical Design and art teacher

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Kim Howell May 4, 2016 at 8:30 am

What a beautiful article! Thank you Ruth! Young At Art was blessed the day you walked through our door:) You have brought so much love and heart to us and to our students and we’re so grateful to have you on our amazing team of teachers who truly believe in what we’re doing at Young At Art. Immediately you got ” the bigger picture” that it is so much more to these children than art lessons. The confidence, self worth , imagination and creativity these kids have an opportunity to enjoy and embrace is life changing and you’ve always known that from your heart. And thank you for sharing with us your wonderful friends at MIXTE & BLUESCALE GROUP Jamie & Karim for their invaluable help and support! We love you Ruth! Thanks for carrying the message!

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