‘Faith’ in the (Drawing) Process: Cultural Arts at Unleashing Potential

Faith’s* dream is to be a famous artist. She is very talented at drawing, and particularly enjoys painting. Thanks to St. Louis-based Unleashing Potential’s summer enrichment program, Faith might be a step closer to her dream.

In the program, held at Church of the Master UCC in Florissant, Mo., the leaders helped Faith to find her voice in her art. This summer, the focus at Church of the Master tended toward STEAM — science, technology, engineering, cultural arts and math. Faith has enjoyed those activities, and she’s especially loved the hands-on activities.

“The teachers really support what I do,” she said.

Each summer, Unleashing Potential’s leaders incorporate the children’s interests into the curriculum. At the heart of the summer enrichment program, the leaders want to give children exposure to new concepts and possible future career paths, so the children can apply themselves toward their own dreams. It’s not just about planting seeds toward a specific subject. Rather, the leaders want to leave impressions, encourage the children to think and communicate more effectively, and, above all, have fun.

So this summer, when leaders noticed Faith was always drawing during class, they thought of ways to lean in. Thanks to partner the St. Louis Christmas Carols Association, Unleashing Potential secured a generous donation toward art supplies.

“I was like ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a lot of art supplies!’” Faith said.

Faith took full advantage. In fact, she found out that it was the birthday of one leader she’d particularly connected with, and she drew a portrait of that leader to give as a birthday present.

“She is really good at drawing,” the leader said. “She gave me a picture of myself for my birthday, and it was really sweet.”

Findings from longitudinal studies demonstrate that arts education leads to more education and higher incomes (National Endowment for the Arts). Yet many African American and Hispanic students lack access to quality arts education compared to their White peers (U.S. Department of Education, 2018). The summer enrichment program at Unleashing Potential has enabled students like Faith to let their imaginations lead them to be anything they dream to be.

Faith still has a long way to go to become a famous artist, but hopefully this past summer helped to inch her trajectory in that direction.

*Actual student’s name has been changed to protect child’s identity.

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