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June 2017

Kinship looks to art to inspire Minds

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By Emma Uhrich

Helen Keller once said “The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with their heart.” This quote rings true for Kinship Program Coordinator Cookie Nelson.

Along with other Kinship volunteers, Nelson led a group activity with local children at the Fergus Falls YMCA. It is clear after only a few minutes talking with Nelson that she has a passion for helping kids in the community thrive through art and by creating lasting relationships with positive role models.

“My goal is to give children a chance who don’t always have a chance to experience art,” Nelson said.

Nelson organized the arts and crafts group to teach kids about respecting the environment, each other and one’s self. The children learned important lessons of nature through planting sunflower seeds. In addition, they were taught how the wind affects the environment and colored pinwheels to demonstrate. They also participated in a small drawing class featuring sketches of cats and dogs.

The class ranged in numbers with the highest being around 20. The age range included four- to 12-year-olds and catered to kids with a variety of different situations and needs.

Alongside Nelson were two young volunteers from the community. Drew Balken is a local artist who has won a few prestigious awards including the Best in Show Award from the Blondeau Fine Arts Festival. Balken has known Nelson for years and remembers spending time together doing similar projects. Anna Austad is a competitive taekwondo member and assisted the group in making pinwheels and planting seeds. Along with younger volunteers, parents and adult helpers contributed as well. “The volunteers are the ones who make this happen. I would not have been able to do this myself,” Nelson said.

Kinship is a nonprofit organization that aids youths with a variety of struggles in finding a positive person that they can look up to. According to Nelson, their main objective is to gain mentees along with mentors to join Kinship for the upcoming school year. Mentors in the program are committed to spending an hour a week with their Kinship child and engaging in simple, inexpensive activities like fishing, sewing, baking cookies, washing a car, going to a movie or working on a puzzle.

Service projects are added as an activity to allow the children to see the value in serving others and the community. Through these projects participants can interact with different kinds of people, grow in their confidence and recognize the importance of respect.

If you are interested in the Kinship program or have any questions, call 218-998-9005.

Original Article can be viewed here