Abrakadoodle Arts for All Program Makes a Difference in Central Maryland

Peacefulness. Pride. Joy. These are just a few of the good feelings that result from young people participating in the arts, particularly for those who struggle with issues that can erode confidence and happiness. Marianne Daley, Education Director/Owner of Abrakadoodle of Howard County partnered with the Howard County Public School System’s Homewood Center to engage students in developing problem solving and communication skills through a six-week creative art program delivered at no cost to the school. Marianne launched classes for at-risk middle school students in late February with instruction provided by her teacher Victor along with two high school student mentors and faculty participation and support. Abrakadoodle is proud of its Arts for All program that seeks to provide inclusion in the arts.

Abrakadoodle Corporate created and began funding its Arts for All program in 2008, which has served hundreds of children who might not otherwise receive quality arts education. Marianne answered that call this year when she learned about students at the Homewood Center, who struggle with a variety of mental health challenges from autism to depression, anxiety and more, and she worked with Homewood Center staff to create a free trial program to serve their students. Abrakadoodle provided weekly art instruction, and the students learned about artists, art forms and techniques and enjoyed using their imaginations to create original works. The very act of creating art is often therapeutic for participants. Student art was featured at a special Art Gallery Event held at the Homewood Center on March 29th. The event was attended by a number of school district administrators, as well as Homewood Center faculty and administrators, Homewood students, as well as Marianne Daley and her teacher Victor Obasogie, who provided art instruction. Marianne commented about the Art Gallery Event, “It was a phenomenal day that I will remember forever!” She said, “The kids were proud to have so many people come and praise their creativity. These kids inspire me, as do the staff and teachers at the Homewood Center.”

As a result of the successful program, which culminated with a student Art Gallery Event, the HoCo Public School System’s Homewood Center signed a formal partnership with Abrakadoodle on Thursday, March 29th in which Abrakadoodle will collaborate with Homewood staff to implement an arts education program for middle school students that promotes critical thinking, creativity and discovery. According to the press release issued April 3, “Abrakadoodle will share resources with teachers including instruction, lessons and materials and will provide opportunities for high school students to serve as classroom assistants. Students and their creations will be featured at an annual Student Art Gallery Exhibit at Homewood.”

Photo caption: HCPSS Chief Academic Officer Bill Barnes; Chief Communication, Community and Workforce Engagement Officer Jahantab Siddiqui; Chief School Management and Instructional Leadership Officer Frank Eastham; Area 1 Community Superintendent Marcy Leonard; Area 1 Performance, Equity and Community Response Officer Jason McCoy and Homewood Center Principal Christina Krabitz joined Abrakadoodle-Central Maryland Program Director Marianne Daley and Teacher Victor Obasogie to sign the formal partnership agreement at the March 29 event. Art courtesy of middle school students.

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