Nonprofit program that uses art to teach is expanding


Each Thursday, like a band of Pied Pipers, students from The Pine School arrive at Murray Middle School playing their instruments, dancing and carrying art supplies.

Soon, they are surrounded by a group of middle school students, cheering and shouting out requests for the next song.

“When they hear the music playing, they all run in,” said Adison Lax, teach sponsor for The Pine School’s Artist 4 A Cause club. “In the beginning, they were a little skeptical, but when (club president Kevin Paul) whips out his guitar, they start cheering and yelling for songs.”

The Pine School’s Artists 4 A Cause club just finished its first year as a program visiting and mentoring younger children. The small group (there are about 10 Pine School students involved) has taken trips to Murray Middle the entire school year, teaching afterschool lessons to students through the use of art.

Artists 4 A Cause labels the program as “Share Art,” a chance for older students to gain leadership skills as they showcase their artistic talents and abilities. Lax, Paul and her group meet early each week to hammer out a lesson plan, deciding what to teach the students and how to get the message across. Sometimes that may be through music, other times through art projects, still others through acting out different situations.

No matter the method, the Murray Middle students jump right in, Lax said.

“We have talked about how to be a good friend and used behavioral modeling showing poor and good behaviors and then suggestions on how to act,” she said. “We have them articulate what they should and shouldn’t do in certain situations. Then we go into the art portion of the lesson.

“If we’re talking about friends, we might make friendship bracelets. If we’re talking about anger, we might have them write a song about what makes them upset or how to deal with it.”

The program has become so successful that the Artists 4 A Cause club at South Fork High will begin visiting younger students in Indiantown during the next school year. Jensen Beach and Clark Advanced Learning Center are also considering adding clubs, said Terry Barber, founder of Artists 4 A Cause.

In fact, interest is growing so fast, Lax said one of the summer projects for her students is to put together a video and set up a model of The Pine School program that can easily translate to other schools, locally and around the state.

It is Barber’s goal to expand the new program to every school in the state that has seen the budget crunch take a chunk out of their performing arts capabilities.

“My interest comes from the fact that, just a few years ago, Florida was one of the top few states for cultural support in our schools,” Barber said. “We are now 47th. Art is proven to be something that affects kids’ values. And the kids who have less access to art are the ones who need it the most.

“Art affects brain development in a permanent way other than just the arts. It helps with learning math and picking up a second language. Anyone who says their kid isn’t going to pursue a career in art so they don’t need to be a part of it … that’s just not the truth.”



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