Afterschool Professional Combines Creativity and Conservation in Her Expanded Learning Opportunity Sessions 

Just about every adult can look back on their childhood and find countless memories tied to art, whether it be side walk chalk drawings in the driveway, a trip to the local art museum, or anything in between. For children and youth, art has long been known as one of the best ways to explore their creativity and push the boundaries of their imagination. Participation in artistic expression allows them to learn about themselves and feel a sense of accomplishment as their imagination comes to life.  

Vincent Van Gogh once said, “if you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  

For Center for Creative Education Teaching Artist, Lupe Lawrence this is the best part of her 16-year career working with children and youth in Palm Beach County as she is able to help the youth she serves develop confidence and other valuable skills that transcend artistic mediums. 

Nothing gives me more joy than when a child says to me, ‘I cannot do it;’ and through patience and love, I show them that they can. I believe that this lesson gives them confidence to tackle other problems that they will encounter in life.” – Lupe Lawrence, Teaching Artist , Center for Creative Education

Center for Creative Education offers an expanded learning opportunity session called 123 Art and Me that is a perfect example of this theme-in-action. Each week, participants learn how to use existing shapes, letters, and numbers as a basis for creating fun and whimsical animals and people. At the same time, youth are taught about the importance of wildlife conservation, animal protection, and ways that they can lessen their footprint on the earth.  

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Prime Time was able to join Academy for Positive Learning Afterschool Program in West Palm Beach, where children and youth were seen with plenty of markers, stencils and smiles as they designed their own folders to use for the rest of their sessions. The use of stencils allowed youth to quickly create unique combinations to express their personal style and interests.  

Everything from rocket ships to puppies to abstract shapes were available for youth to design their custom works of art. As the class wrapped up Lupe spent time discussing the importance of protecting the planet including the animals on many of the stencils used by youth. Lupe had two sessions back-to-back this afternoon. One with younger children and another with a slightly older group. When both sessions concluded, Lupe asked her participants to show either a thumbs up or thumbs down to let her know how they felt about the session. Youth launched their thumbs up into the air faster than the colorful rocket ship drawn on one child’s folder. While everyone expressed how much they enjoyed their afternoon, two girls in the front of the classroom shared the only negative feedback this session received. They were upset that they had to wait a whole week before getting to participate in the session again.  

Lupe hopes that by connecting fun art lessons to the greater message, she can foster a love not only for art, but for the animals and the planet we share with them.  

The next generation is our hope for a better tomorrow. I use art as an introduction to conservation. As the students view the beauty of art, they compare it to the beauty of the world around them, which causes them to realize and acknowledge the problems that we face and hopefully want to find creative solutions in the future. – Lupe Lawrence, Teaching Artist , Center for Creative Education

This, of course, is just one of the countless examples of how out-of-school time programming can create fun and hands-on educational experiences for children and youth beyond school hours. The importance of this time between school ends and home life begins cannot be overstated.  

By providing quality afterschool programing, we are shaping the next generation of leaders. We give solutions to parents who must work past their children’s schedule and offer their children fun and educational opportunities. This makes for a win-win solution and relieves a lot of the stress for many families. My hope is that this relief causes the child to have a better home life and that in turn, they will make better citizens. – Lupe Lawrence, Teaching Artist , Center for Creative Education

Prime Time strives to provide children and youth with a wide range of hands-on learning experiences. In partnership with local content expert organizations, Prime Time makes available expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) to eligible afterschool and summer programs. In 2020-2021, Prime Time offered 136,829 learning experiences that impacted 50,001 youth between October 2020 and September 2021. 

To learn more about Center for Creative Education and Prime Time’s full menu of expanded learning opportunity providers, click here.