Serving the Environment and Community, One Crayon at a Time

03/29/2017 07:50 pm ET
Used with permission from Crayon Collection

It’s commonly recognized that in the United States, arts programs are among the first to be sacrificed when public education budgets are slashed. Deemed at first glance as superfluous, especially when pitted against core subjects such as math and language arts, creativity is an easily justified casualty of anemic school districts.

But what is the real tradeoff when you prioritize academics ahead of the arts? A 2011 study conducted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities found that on top of raising test scores, visual arts programs teach skills that improve reading, critical thinking, and motivation levels in students of all ages. This and dozens of other analyses emphasize just how closely creativity is linked to growth and self-esteem.

Even though California has one of the strongest statewide policies on arts education, thousands of its students suffer as a result of weak implementation and emaciated budgets. In fact, 8 out of 10 LAUSD elementary schools fail to meet the standards they are held to, with many having no art or music classes whatsoever.

Washington has certainly made its priorities clear, what with a proposed budget that guts the Department of Education and eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts. So where policymakers fail to deliver, community members must take a stand.

Used with permission from Crayon Collection

That’s where Crayon Collection comes in. Homegrown in Los Angeles by Sheila Morovati, the nonprofit was founded on a simple action: collecting lightly used crayons from large diner chains and putting them in the hands of students at schools that often don’t even have funding for the most basic supplies. Thanks to the work of a small team of 3 and hundreds of community volunteers, their services can be found at restaurants and schools nationwide – and even internationally.

Having solidified their core services, Crayon Collection is now ready to take the next step. On March 31st they will launch their newly minted Arts in Education program. With the help of doctorate students in education from Loyola Marymount University and local LA artists, the nonprofit has developed a curriculum that meets state and national standards and serves kids from Pre-K up through grade 6. Each lesson pairs perfectly with the donated crayons, which are diverted from landfills to support learning and creative expression in the children that need it most.

In addition, their Artist Rotation Program enlists local artists and cultural ambassadors from a variety of backgrounds to visit these same classrooms and teach. By offering a robust curriculum that teachers can adopt at zero cost and wholesome lessons that utilize recycled objects like newspaper, Crayon Collection is just one group that is chipping away at a pervasive, deeply rooted problem affecting our most vulnerable neighbors.

The arts should be a right, not a privilege.

To learn more about Crayon Collection and to offer your support, visit their website.

Used with permission from Crayon Collection
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