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Youth Build Life Skills in the Mentoring in the Arts Program (MAP)

This year, we partnered with our Woonsocket neighbors at Beacon Founders Academy to launch our Mentoring in the Arts Program (MAP).

Thanks to donors, supporters, and friends like YOU, MAP allows teens like Sunny D. (16) to take on leadership roles as mentors for middle-school-aged youth. And Woonsocket youth at Founders are getting new access to extracurricular arts education with the help of mentors like Sunny!

“It’s interesting to help youth similar to me find their own creative expression,” Sunny explains, “And I like meeting young artists and teaching them new techniques—like how to keep acrylic paint smooth across the board.”

And 7th-grader Abigayle C. is excited to have the support of youth like Sunny: “I’ve always liked art, but like, art class feels so structured. Here I have more freedom to learn and just explore new things.”

For the first four weeks of the 8-week program, Sunny, Abigayle, and their peers took on a series of exploratory, skills-building exercises under the direction of Artistic Director Brad Fesmire, MFA. Sunny’s favorite was painting festive harvest pumpkins, which they say was “great for spooky season.”

For the remainder of the program, the youth have been hard at work on a collaborative mural project to be installed at the Founders campus, which Brad says helps shift the focus of the program toward how to complete a long-term, collaborative project. The mural features an inspirational banner with the words “Accept, Create, Achieve,” and a mountain range formed of pizza slices.

In Abigayle’s words, the mural also “incorporates characters from cartoons and videogames and some original ideas from the other students.”

But the youth say that the things they’re learning in MAP go far beyond brush and canvas. “I’ve gotten better skills with painting,” Abigayle explains, “but here we’re encouraged to explore, and that’s helped me develop a more open-minded perspective.”

For their own part, Sunny says “I’ve learned to be more patient and understanding when working with others.”

And those skills will help Sunny and Abigayle go far, no matter what paths they choose next. THANK YOU for equipping youth like Sunny and Abigayle with the tools, training, and support they need to grow as young artists and young people.