FULTON COUNTY – If art is an expression of love, Noelani C., a member of the Warren Boys & Girls Club, hopes that everyone who stumbles upon her work will be inspired. The precocious 9-year-old is passionate about art. She loves it so much that she’d rather spend her downtime drawing and painting instead of watching TV and playing with friends. The art room is even her favorite hangout at the Warren Club, because it’s a safe haven where young creative minds like Noelani can learn, dream and grow.
Boys & Girls Club is also one of the few places many youth can go to explore a variety of creative mediums on a regular basis. According to state education reports, Georgia lags behind the rest of the country in the percentage of schools with arts classes.
About 60 percent of school districts cut or eliminated fine arts and music programs since 2009. Two-thirds of those districts did not restore them, according to a report obtained by the AJC.
Meanwhile, studies also showed that art education is closely linked to academic achievement, social and emotional development and civic engagement.
That’s why Noelani’s art instructor believes the programs offered at Warren are vital to the hundreds of youth it serves.
“We do a little of everything – watercolors, pottery, acrylic painting and mixed media,” said Pamela Osborne.
“These projects really teach kids patience and independence.”
Self-expression and self-empowerment are also key benefits.
Noelani is an example of a child thriving in the arts. Her pieces are often chosen for the Imagine That…Fine Arts Exhibit, a showcase of artwork made by local Club members. Some of her paintings have even advanced to the regional competition.
“I’ve loved art since I was a baby,” she said, adding that pottery and paper mache projects are her favorite things to make.
Noelani says she started out making stick figures, and then progressed to making animals and more challenging illustrations. Though she’s a natural talent, Noelani credits the programs at her Club for enhancing her abilities, and discovering her entrepreneurial spirit.
“I make bracelets and sell them, too,” she said.
She’s looking forward to making big money for her talents one day, but most of all, she wants to help inspire other youth to pursue their creative passions.