Free Arts Minnesota’s mission is to bring caring adults alongside youth in challenging circumstances. Free Arts believes in team-style mentoring, and requires a regular commitment from their volunteers. This commitment is necessary because these children have been disappointed by the adults in their life, or the only adults they interact with are authority figures like case workers. These kids are waiting for the other shoe to drop and it’s important that they experience the consistency of regularly spending time with caring adults, time and people they can count on.
Free Arts Minnesota engages the children in a wide variety of arts learning. They do not do “crafts” with the kids. They engage in all art mediums with a rigorous curriculum that allows the children to learn, create, and provides them with the opportunity to lead.
The work Free Arts Minnesota does with children is important because as Sara stated, “kids can achieve; they just need to opportunity to do so.” The children Free Arts works with typically score high on the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) scale. Adverse childhood experiences have been shown to lead to social and emotional impairment, adoption of high-risk behaviors, disease, and in some cases death. When children come to Free Arts, they have experienced a level of trauma in their young lives that some people will not ever experience.
Scientific research has shown that there is a connection between brain development and engaging in the arts. Through arts learning, children who have experienced setbacks due to adverse childhood experiences can gain social and emotional development, diversion from current life circumstances, increased focus, and better academic performance. Arts learning encourages pro-social behavior, so it also has been shown to increase an understanding of social justice and encourages children to be better citizens.
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