Encouraging Creativity In Children

A sampling of creativity tools being offered PHOTO FROM RITA COURY

A sampling of creativity tools being offered

Is your refrigerator covered in artwork made by your little Picasso?

My kids’ art collection outgrew our kitchen long ago. Now it’s all over the house. Our son scouts out new locations daily to hang his masterpieces.

I love to see young minds engage in creative expression, with simple supplies and their imagination. Children have a natural appreciation for the arts — all of it: painting, drawing, music, theater.

Unfortunately, as schools face budget cuts, the arts are usually the first to go.

The New York Center for Arts Education listed some of the benefits of exposing children to art. They become creative thinkers, learn to observe and describe, to express feelings, with or without words. They’re also more likely to think “out of the box” and appreciate different cultures.

Award-winning children’s photographer Rita Coury saw a need to boost creative outlets for Oahu’s keiki.

“I was saddened to hear many children tell me that they don’t have even the simplest tools, like a box of crayons, to enjoy coloring and expressing themselves in a creative way,” Coury says. “During my years volunteering at children’s hospitals on the Mainland assisting with art therapists, I saw firsthand the numerous benefits that creative expression can do for a child.”

Coury launched a Keiki Creative Drive to provide supplies like coloring books, crayons, watercolor paints and brushes, paper, markers, stickers, journals, puzzles, glue and art projects to schools or family organizations in need.

As Coury explains it, “There are too many children of all ages on Oahu who are deprived of the tools to draw a picture or make a clay sculpture. I understand that food comes before crayons and clay, but children who are deprived of the chance to be creative are starving in another way.”

Coury is accepting applications now. So far, she’s received six nominations from Hawaii and one from Thailand.

The first recipient is Ready to Learn (R2L) of Helping Hands Hawaii. The program gathers donations year round to provide thousands of students with school supplies.

Here are some tips for parents to make the arts a part of their child’s development:

* Keep arts and crafts supplies available and accessible to your kid.

* Celebrate your child’s artwork by displaying their drawings.

* Enjoy the arts together by going to museums, concerts or the theater.

* Point out arts around you in the park, on murals, in nature.

* If your little one expresses interest, consider art class.

To submit nominations or make a donation to the Keiki Creative Drive, e-mail Rita@ritacouryphotography.com

Subject: Coury Cares