I am an artist, muralist and interior designer. A few years ago, I moved to Las Vegas for work to find that the arts had been taken out of the classrooms there, in a school system that was dead last in the nation.
While wealthier neighborhood schools still have arts programs, under-resourced schools do not. So I volunteered to teach art to children, especially those with disabilities. After a while, I thought: why don’t I start a nonprofit? My new organization is called The Arts Empower focused low-income children, particularly children with disabilities in the public schools.
In grade school, art was my favorite class. My parents were told by my teachers that I was shy. But I never felt that because, in art class, I could express myself. That’s what I want for the children I work with. There’s a lot of research coming out showing that, without opportunities for creativity, everything from reading to grades is affected.
Through my nonprofit, I’m working with teachers to develop lesson plans for using iPads for art, giving the children skills in technology and art, as well as reading, which they like better when using the iPad. In these schools, parental involvement is often lacking. So we are launching a mural project to get families involved. The students are so proud of themselves when they finish what they are working on.
There have certainly been challenges along the way. I am funding this nonprofit right now with my own money and writing grant proposals to sustain it. But what I am doing now – exposing children to art they would have never seen, and giving them a creative outlet – that is a calling for me.