- Student Spotlight
Kyra K. '19 Expands Art Program Serving LA Homeless Youth
After securing a grant from the Karma for Cara Foundation, Kyra hopes to continue expanding her volunteer art class partnership with LA Family Housing.
Kyra K. '19 had a passion for art, drawing, and painting from an early age. When she was twelve years old and about to enter 7th grade, Kyra realized that many people never have an opportunity to learn about and pursue art, particularly with costly high-quality materials. Looking for a way to share her zeal for art making, Kyra and her friend Emilia launched KEM Creative Studios, an organization focused on sharing art with kids.
To start, Kyra and Emilia met with several art teachers and mentors to learn how to create lesson plans for beginning art classes and teach specific techniques. Then, with their lesson plans finished, the girls began to look for an organization where they could put them to use.
"We called LA Family Housing and proposed our idea to them," said Kyra. "It's a transitional homeless shelter. One of their main priorities is to find permanent housing for the people living in the shelter. They have a lot of kids there and the sense of community is very strong, so we thought it would be a great place to start our program."
"At first they weren't so sure how it would go," Kyra continued. "We were young and we'd never taught art classes before. But they let us try it out and it was successful!"
Since then, Kyra and Emilia have been teaching classes four to six weekends each semester to children ages eight to 12-years-old. They try to incorporate a variety of different materials, discussing properties and demonstrating techniques for each.
Kyra says that she's noticed the kids particularly enjoy painting, as having access to quality paint is a treat. And she's had several students who were especially passionate about the class. One young boy, Donald, came to Kyra's first class. "Throughout his entire stay at the shelter he never missed a single class," Kyra shared. "He was doing art outside of the class and he hung up his art in his room. He finally found a home, which we're very happy about, but of course we're sad that he doesn't come to our classes anymore."
After spending three years developing the classes, Kyra and Emilia are starting to expand. This past summer, they applied for a Youth Service America grant and received $800 from the Karma for Cara Foundation to cover expenses for art supplies which they had been purchasing themselves.
Additionally, Kyra and Emilia are now looking to bring in new student art teachers. "We're going to start training new teachers, mostly 8th graders," Kyra explains. "We really want to mentor and teach them so that in the future they can continue the program and build on it. I definitely hope to keep the program going after graduation because it's such a fun way to help everyone in the community. It's really rewarding. The students are so happy when they're painting. It gets them focused and relaxed."