Dear Parents and Caregivers,

I’m going to get a little vulnerable with you and share that I am struggling with school re-entry.

 

As a parent, I am overwhelmed by the emails, flyers and notifications addressing my children's

school requirements. Over the past month or so, I have noticed myself starting almost every

professional conversation with some sort of apology or “thanks for your patience with me” for not

meeting what I believe are reasonable expectations of myself at this time. Surprisingly, or perhaps

not so surprisingly, I have also noticed that everyone I apologize to volleys back to me with their

own story of how they are struggling with the back to school transition this year. It’s such a relief

to be on the receiving end of empathy and a gift to learn that we are not alone in our struggles. 

 

When another human being hears our story and identifies with our experience or sees the world from a different lens for having heard our story, we create a culture of empathy -- a powerful and essential social/emotional asset that can literally heal our lives and change our world for the better. Often we receive empathy from conversations, texts or emails between loved ones, but what if you, or your children, are not extroverted? Or comfortable sharing? Or what if you or your child struggles to express themselves either because they prefer not to or because they cannot find the words? And what if words simply aren’t enough? Are there other mediums through which we can express our thoughts, assuage our burdens or find solace in a shared struggle? Thankfully, YES!

THE ARTS are a channel through which we can share and receive empathy and healing. 

 

Reaching back to high school geometry, I can use the law of syllogism to simplify:

 

Empathy procures healing.

Art procures empathy.

Therefore, art procures healing.

 

I know that the connection between the arts and social/emotional well being is not a new concept for you because you live in a community that, over 40 years ago, established the Cultural Organization of the Arts and its mission to provide cultural arts programming to every school aged child in East Greenwich. For over 40 years, you and your neighbors have supported our efforts to bring thoughtful and diverse performances, workshops, assemblies and field trips into our schools to augment our children’s education and foster an enriching and empathic connection to our changing world.

 

Last year, with your support, we were able to offer:

 

  • A dance workshop to EGHS and Cole students with Betsy Struxness, an original cast member of Broadway’s Hamilton. We heard about her career on Broadway and learned some original Hamilton choreography, she also spoke about how dance impacts brain development. 

  • Our Kindergartners participated in a “Museum of Me” project through a remote field trip with the Children’s Museum of Art in NYC, and created a work of art that depicted the most important things in their lives. 

  • Grades 1-5 took part in the Crayola Experience through which they engaged in various creative activities, learned about the origins of the crayon and received a gift bag of clay, markers, crayons, silly putty and coloring pages. 

  • And, of course, we were all challenged and changed by LeLand Gantt’s interview with EGHS students and his solo performance of Rhapsody in Black. 
     

There are so many ways you can help: 

  • A contribution of as little as $25 will fund a year of diverse arts programming for one student

  • $100 will fund a program for an entire class

  • $500 will fund a remote program for an entire school 

  • $1000 will fund an in person program for an entire school

 

We hope you will join us in supporting COA this year.  

 

Be well and go easy on yourself.

 

Sincerely,

 


Valerie Remillard
Executive Director

PS: Volunteering is another great way to contribute! If you’d like to learn more about serving on the board, our event committee or as a school liaison, please send an email to culturalorganizationarts@gmail.com.

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