In 1969, Fred Rogers appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on Communication to make his case for the continued funding of PBS. His statement about his show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and the importance of art and creative play in child development is still powerful and particularly relevant today:
This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, “You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.” … I feel that if we, in public television, can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health. I think that it’s much more dramatic that two men could be seen working out their feelings of anger ― much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire.
On February 12th, President Trump and the White House released its 2019 budget and once again, 50 years after Fred Rogers’ thoughtful appearance before the Senate, funding for the Arts and public broadcasting are under threat.
Two days later, a troubled teenager killed 17 people at a high school in Florida.
When do we, as a nation, start valuing the role that the arts and creativity play in the development of the mental and emotional health of our children?
Funding the arts and programs that encourage creativity and creative play help kids grow into adults who become productive members of society.
- During creative play, kids get in touch with their feelings, both positive and negative.
- Creative expression gives kids an outlet to share their feelings with the world in a productive way that is about beauty, not violence.
- Our imagination allows us to see possibilities.
- The critical thinking skills utilized when creating art teach us to identify problems.
- The cultivation of our imagination gives us the skills to help us find innovative solutions to our problems.
- Sharing art with others teaches us to give and receive feedback and in the process, to learn communication skills.
- Receiving critique, both positive and negative, teaches us grit and resilience.
Of course, I am not saying that arts education and creative play could have prevented the tragic shooting in Florida. What I am saying is that we need more programs in place that teach children that feelings are as Fred Rogers said, “mentionable and manageable” and art is a safe place where that can happen.
It is time for us as a society to stand up in support of the indisputable role of arts education in building a world of children and adults who know how to problem solve without violence. It is time for us to say that we want our tax dollars to go towards programs and funding that we believe betters the world.
Appel Farm Arts Camp continues to do the essential work of emphasizing the importance of the arts and creative play in child development. In addition to our residential summer arts camp, we also offer a 10 week series of affordable, accessible, after school art classes for kids (grades K through 6) – Arts Lab. This spring, Arts Lab begins on Monday, March 12th. Kids will rotate through these 4 classes:
- Painting like the Greats (looking at Kandinsky, Pollock, Picasso, and Van Gogh)
- Making Instruments & Music
- Creative Clay
- Pop-Art Printmaking
To enroll or learn more, click here.