BERLIN — Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) will begin its new tie-in program with Berlin’s 2nd Friday Art Stroll this week.
The organization’s Berlin Youth Club will be offering a free children’s art activity during this week’s stroll and every following stroll until at least June.
“Each week has a theme and it’s going to be either an art period or an artist,” said Melanie Windsor, youth coordinator for WYFCS.
The activity will be held in the WYFCS building on Main Street from 5-6:30 p.m., which will coincide with the town’s monthly art stroll. It is open, free of charge, for any children ages 3-12. There will also be a snack provided.
Windsor pointed out that the program gives entire families a chance to experience art in Berlin and allows parents that might otherwise have to stay home a safe place to drop their child while they take the stroll, though parents of young children are encouraged to stay with them.
The theme for the first-ever WYFCS art activity will probably be Michelangelo, according to Windsor, and may be followed by a more general Greek theme next month. Giving each month a theme lends the otherwise freeform activity a little structure and adds a degree of education as well.
Windsor explained that each night will start with a brief lesson on the artist, style or time period and will be a first-time introduction to art history for many of the kids.
WYFCS tries to make any program or activity an educational experience that children still enjoy, added Assistant Director Lori Carson.
“Almost all of the activities that we plan have some kind of educational component involved in it,” she said. “Art is an important medium and hopefully some of the kids will realize that they have potential and start to develop those skills.”
The idea for a widely available art activity started with WYFCS’ summer and after-school programs. Any projects involving art were popular with members of the youth group, said Carson.
“Art is such a big thing with the kids,” she continued. “They all seem to flock to art-type projects.”
These kinds of activities are often the first time that a child really experiences art, which can lead to a lifelong interest, argued Carson.
Windsor stressed that WYFCS is concentrating on “process, not product” and will be trying to introduce kids to a variety of styles and techniques during their 2nd Friday workshops.
“It’s multi-medium so we’re hoping to do some clay but all different kinds of paints and charcoals and pastels, we have all of that kind of stuff,” she said.
The program is receiving help in the form of in-kind donations from the Worcester County Arts Council. Supplies and materials that Windsor said are vital to the effort’s success. She also thanked the town of Berlin for being supportive of WYFCS and the idea of having a children’s art activity on the same night.
Though every night will start with a brief spotlight on the artist or time period, Windsor said that kids will have a lot of freedom to just follow their own inspiration and that any late comers shouldn’t feel intimidated if they miss the lesson. Carson agreed and said the aim is to stay informal.
The project is planned through at least June, though it may continue through the summer depending on how successful it is. At some point in the future, Windsor hopes to use the program as a jumping off point for Youth Club trips to area museums and other art centers. She also revealed that some kind of “cumulative event” such as an art show featuring the pieces made by kids during the events might be in the cards.