WMU News

Art students and youngsters enjoy spring day together

April 11, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Thanks to some area youngsters, colorful spring flowers bloomed at Western Michigan University several weeks before spring weather actually arrived.

"Spring Fever" was the theme for the art department's Community Family Day program, which connected WMU students and children from the community for a Saturday afternoon of art activities and fun. Twenty area children ages 7 to 13 and their parents attended the March program. Nine art education majors worked with the children, who painted spring scenes on the windows of two studio classrooms in Sangren Hall.

"Community Day programs give our art education majors an opportunity to work with children in an informal setting," says Candice Schilz, assistant professor of art. "It helps them develop their skills in interacting one-on-one with children of different ages, and it provides a way to field test new art activities."

According to Schilz, attendance at the March 16 program was typical for the activity, which is held once during each fall and winter semester. "About 20 children is a good number for us to work with," she says.

Allison Coles is a senior art education major from Mattawan, Mich., and a veteran of Community Family Days -- this March was her third. "It's an excellent experience and different from what we'll gain from (student teaching)," says Coles. "This is an opportunity to really connect with a couple kids and spend more than a few minutes with each of them. You can really find out a lot about children by watching how they express themselves through art."

"It's a fun afternoon for the kids," says Schilz, "the parents enjoy themselves and our students learn a lot from the experience. Everyone benefits."

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thomas.myers@wmich.edu

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