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Y Impact Story: Art & Soul

Apr 7, 2015, 13:40 PM by


For the past couple weeks, I have been sitting down with kids in the YMCA after school program and drawing their portraits for an upcoming fundraiser.

I'm an art student, so it's a wonderful gift to be able to capture their kind faces, brimming with compassion and fantastic potential. One of the young girls in our group likes to peer over my shoulder as I sketch. She monitors the other students close by ensuring they give me adequate space to concentrate and aren't too noisy (this is a self-appointed position, by the way). She is so quiet and light-footed, I can hardly tell she is there.

[pullquote]I don't like to make the kids wait too long; they put heartfelt effort into being still and present.[/pullquote]

One time when the kids were being particularly loud, I glanced over and saw her cutting "ear muffs" out of construction paper. I wasn't sure why. I just found it endearing she had these paper ear covers on, thoroughly testing them with a look of scrutiny on her face. A moment later, she brightly placed them on my head, making sure they fit properly. To my surprise, they actually blocked out significant noise. Impressed and chuckling, I returned to drawing.

Keylie2I don't like to make the kids wait too long; they put heartfelt effort into being still and present. I draw them only if they request it, so they are empowered to have the experience by their own choosing.

Recently, the young girl asked to view my sketchbook. While flipping through the pages together, she suddenly glared into my eyes with the most intent I've ever seen a child embody and exclaimed, "I can't believe I'm looking at my future self!! I'm going to be an artist! I can't believe this!" Taken aback with much surprise, I smiled nervously realizing the depth of the role she just assigned me.

I have never been looked up to this way. I feel moved that a child would see such potential in the space between us. She is exceedingly talented but noticeably hard on herself. I will do my best to soften that critical edge as a caring cheerleader for her flourishing creativity.

GalenThese kids gift us with so much generosity and love simply by seeing greatness in us. As I sketch their delicate portraits, I am honored to "face" the future and grateful for meaningful work that enables me to do so. 

Natasha Terry works in the after school program at Creekside Elementary in Boulder. The drawings that accompany her Y story are her renderings of Bianca, Keylie and Galen (top to bottom), all students at Creekside.

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