The Refuge plans ‘Creative Escape’ art camp for youngsters
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG  Banner Staff Writer
Jun 08, 2014 | 813 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Local nonprofit The Refuge is set to launch a free art camp for children in the East Cleveland communitythis summer.

From June 23 to 27, the organization will hold the “Creative Escape” art day camp for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Kelli Kyle, director of community involvement, said the organization’s main mission is to “create stability” in the lives of families who live near where it is located, in the Family Support Center on Blythe Avenue.

The organization offers a variety of programs for adults that include free classes to learn things like how to write resumes and how to create family budgets. In an effort to help family members of all ages, she said it was important to add something new for children.

“We knew we could not create a huge impact ... without focusing on children as well,” Kyle said.

The weeklong art camp will take place at the Family Support Center from 9 a.m. to noon each day, and have children painting, drawing and sculpting under the tutelage of local artist Josh Coleman. The children will be divided into three age groups — the “Little Leonardos” in kindergarten through second grade, the “Van Goghs” in third through fifth grades and the “Picassos” in sixth through eighth grades — to focus on age-appropriate projects.

Kyle said The Refuge chose to create a camp centered around art in part because the subject is not as emphasized in school as it once was, and art can help children build confidence and self-esteem.

Not every child is talented in areas like math, but those who may not succeed in some areas may find they have art-related talents. Kyle said she expects some children might find they have talents they didn’t know they had.

“That can bring some encouragement and motivation to their lives,” Kyle said.

Children will have the opportunity to show off the fruits of their labor during an “art gala” on the last day of the camp. The gym at the Family Support Center will temporarily become an art gallery filled with their colorful masterpieces.

Since the camp is being provided to children who primarily come from low-income households at no cost to them, Kyle said The Refuge is in need of donations to help pay for items like art supplies.

Each year in the fall, the organization also provides backpacks full of school supplies to children in need, and it has started a fundraising campaign that will allow individuals to “sponsor” a child to attend the summer art camp and receive school supplies in the fall. A donation of $50 will cover the costs for one child.

Kyle said Thursday about nine individuals, families and companies have decided to become sponsors, and the organization hopes to serve about 300 children.

The organization is also in need of volunteers to assist with the camp. No artistic abilities are needed — just a willingness to help, Kyle said.

For more information, call The Refuge at 423-584-5211, email or visit