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Harnessing The Power of Art To Help Students Cope During Crisis

Color Me Columbus Book

May 14, 2020 - Recognizing the power of artistic expression to reduce stress and connect creative minds, Columbus City Schools partnered with several talented Columbus artists, a local gallery owner, and a respected art therapist to encourage students to “Color Me Columbus.”

Short North art gallery owner Michelle Brandt (right) visited Sherwood Middle School with some of the contributors to the Color Me Columbus art activity book.Michelle Brandt, owner and director of the Short North’s Brandt-Roberts Galleries, led the efforts to create the “Color Me Columbus” art activity book, which features the works of twelve local artists and encourages students to recreate the images using their own artistic designs.

More than 1500 copies of the “Color Me Columbus” activity book, along with individual sets of colored pencils, were handed out to children who visited the 15 CCS Grab-and-Go Food Sites, where students and parents pick up free breakfasts and lunches each day.

The District’s new Department of Engagement organized the distribution of the activity books, part of the large-scale effort over the past two months to provide additional materials and supports to our students and families who struggle to meet basic, educational, and social-emotional needs.

Board of Education Member Carol Beckerle helped our volunteer with After-School All Stars hand out copies of the book. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, CCS families have often shared with teachers and staff a need to find additional engaging academic and creative activities at home to compliment the new CCS Online Academy.

The “Color Me Columbus” book and colored pencils were purposely paired together to they could be enjoyed by students of all ages.

More importantly, this creative outlet can help positively impact how young people feel during this stress-filled time, according to Joan Selle Zeller, a Columbus registered art therapist and social worker who contributed to the production of “Color Me Columbus.” She says evidence indicates that engagement with artistic activities reduces stress, increases coping skills, and creates improved social functioning.

Students will be encouraged to share their versions of the artwork online and on social media. The partners are even working on a potential public exhibition in the Fall, bringing together students and artists, with the students’ art hanging next to the original works.

Click here for more on this story from WOSU.