For over 10 years ArtHouse has been engaging hundreds of vulnerable young kids with Neighbourhood and Community Programs, delivered at HCHC Subsidized Housing locations, Cooperatives and Community Hubs throughout Halton. Our Goal – to provide consistent, safe, FREE programming with strong role-model relationships. On a number of occasions, in addition to our foundation of Arts-related Programs that support the creativity and positive well-being of all of our young people, our work has included homework help, cooking, gardening and environmental education. ArtHouse is often the child’s only extra-curricular activity.
COVID-19 has dramatically affected the lives of our families, including kids’ access to school breakfast programs. AND, no more ArtHouse after-school Programs.
We adapted quickly to meet the impact of these sudden changes. Because of our close relationship with many of our at-risk families, we recently initiated an emergency food program, thanks to three ArtHouse Restaurant friends along with Wellington Square Church in Burlington. Each is providing them with freshly prepared meals up to two times per week. We are currently reaching 60 families and have delivered over 500 meals to date.
We have also implemented On-line ArtHouse You-tube Programs on our Website open to hundreds of our young people, thanks to our creative Arts Instructors.
AND, recently, we launched our first ArtHouse ZOOM Program with two of our fabulous Instructors who are leading our kids with a choice of Visual Arts and Drama Programs where, through the Magic of Zoom, they can go into “Break-out” Rooms with each of our Instructors – there will definitely be more of these programs, again reaching hundreds of our young people.
We’ve learned so much more about our families and their needs over these past few weeks and as we continue to develop an even closer relationship with our kids, our focus will be on how, in our small way we can support the Whole Child – physically, socially, emotionally, educationally and nutritionally.
WHAT WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE:
● Follow up with parents when we notice a child struggling during an ArtHouse program;
● Ask our kids to help us decide what programming they’d like including Arts, life-skills, cooking and other special workshops;
○ Expose them to new experiences and encourage them not to be afraid to accept failure – to take chances and become more resilient.
● Create Private Facebook pages to connect directly with our kids;
● Watch our Kids Social Media Activities:
○ Social Media/Internet has become the main source of connection for most of our kids, and while we try to encourage a screen free environment, we see a lot of issues between kids and parents starting over social media;
○ We are also monitoring our young girls and their online activity which can become threatening to them.
● Provide Food support during Program time that can include dinner or snacks – quite often we hear from our kids just how hungry they are;
● Collaborate with Community Partners to provide our kids with other program opportunities:
○ Thanks to friends at Halton Region Police Services:
■ Bike Safety, Anti-bullying programs;
■ Skate programs.
○ Girls Inc.
○ YMCA of Oakville which is offering recreational activities;
○ Cooking programs with Halton Food Council;
○ Camp Connect;
○ Boys and Girls Club.
○ They may be dealing with adult conflict in the home starting at a young age;
○ There is often a presence of drug and alcohol abuse;
○ Kids are experiencing stress/anxiety.
○ Their personal struggles are often not being supported at home:
■ They crave attention and can engage in bullying as a reaction.
○ Many are looking for positive male role models.
● Offering Leadership opportunities for our youth to become ArtHouse volunteers;
● Providing outdoor activities when there is no indoor space available;
● Recognize behavioural issues and struggling kids and support their needs where possible:
HOW WE ARE HELPING DURING COVID-19:
● Ensuring our families know that we are available even when physical programs are not running;
● Offering safe non-judgemental support for moms looking for other community services;
● Staying connected with the whole family, encouraging them all to access our ArtHouse You-tube Programs;
● Collaborating with our community partners to ensure there are opportunities beyond what ArtHouse can provide: ○ Have a Heart and Partnering Aldershot Committee that are also staying connected with like-minded partnering agencies sharing resources;
○ Request to Cst. Matt Baker – HRPS:
■ Mom asked if it’s possible to get two bikes for her girls – delivered within 3 days!
■ Matt – “Twitter has come through once again! Hope to pick up the bikes tomorrow. Can you ask the mom if they happen to have a helmet each?”
■ Mom – “OMG you’re amazing!!! Thank you so much. I have no words to express the gratitude I feel toward all the help you guys have given me through the years. It means the world to me. I have no family to help and often feel terrible for the girls because of my financial situation.”
TESTIMONIALS FROM PARENTS DURING COVID-19:
- “Hi Tracey – I just wanted to let you guys know the meals have been absolutely amazing for us! So helpful at this time. Your You-tube videos are fun and Lilly enjoys them very much. Many Thanks.” Jennifer
- “Good afternoon ArtHouse Community. God bless you ten-fold for all your kindness and love towards my girls and I! The children love the food and I especially appreciate it so much as I get spinal needles on a Tuesday and it gives me a break from making dinner on Wednesday during my recovery. I appreciate you all more than words can express!” Sincerely, Tinyka
- “Hi there – the meals that have been delivered have been amazing on all levels! The quality, the quantity, the taste and the healthy choices that were in the box that came today! I can’t thank you and everyone else enough! It truly goes a long way on all levels; the emotional, financial and mental – thank you!” Amanda Maddie and Maya
- “Hello Ladies – it’s always great what you do to our community. Right now it’s extra hard for us, because Artur was working part time through agency, but due to covid 19 he lost his job this week, I also lost all 3 of my cleaning jobs. No idea when he will get another one, once life is back to normal we both will look for new ones, now everyone is too scared. Stay safe!” Beata
- “In the times that are going on now, you guys are still providing support for our community, you are truly blessed! I truly appreciate you guys coming into my life! Thank you.” Maya, Maddie and Amanda