Unlocking confidence through Art Buddies

Written by Brookley Wofford

The arts – painting, crafting, music, drama, dance, etc. – arm kids with the ability to overcome challenges, express themselves and unlock confidence. When I discovered Art Buddies over two years ago, it brought me back to my days as a student. I was inattentive, lacked the ability to concentrate on things most kids find exciting, and found school deeply frustrating. My undiagnosed learning disability caused my self-esteem to plummet, and I began to shy away from engaging with peers.

After receiving an ADHD diagnosis in elementary school, a teacher recommended I add art classes to my curriculum and join after-school programs that focused on creative expression. The arts – being the intellectual disciplines they are – required complex problem solving that gave me the opportunity to construct my own method of soaking up knowledge. Finding a new sense of self-worth through drama clubs, painting classes, and ballet allowed my confidence to soar. I began to excel in school and my social life blossomed.

As an Art Buddies mentor, member of the Advisory Board and chair of the Communications Committee, I have seen firsthand how after-school programs such as Art Buddies continue to be a vital part of our school systems. While piles of fabric swatches, scissors, glue, pipe cleaners, paintbrushes and cardboard may seem like random supplies meant to simply keep students busy, to kids involved in programs like Art Buddies, those supplies mean much more.

Oftentimes children with learning disabilities are made to feel incapable of learning within a normal classroom setting. Since self-worth plays a critical role in the learning process, tools kids use in programs like Art Buddies help open the world of learning to kids who may have trouble with traditional teaching methods. Some students may be failing in math or history, but a completed costume at the end of an Art Buddies semester represents their newly found skills, self-expression, success, and confidence.

As an elementary student struggling to find a reason to care about school, with no interest in gaining friends, there is no way I could have fathomed how the arts would catapult me into the confident, outgoing, and successful adult I am today.

I graduated with honors in both high school and college, was crowned Miss Mississippi International 2012, had the confidence to move over 1,200 miles from the place I deemed home in order to pursue my dream career, and was recently named Miss Twin Cities United States 2015. Those achievements are minimal compared to the fulfillment I have working with Art Buddies.

I am honored to be a part of an organization that exposes students to the arts at an early age – without limitation based on their background, family income level, or learning preference. The arts – and the benefits they provide – should continue to be made a part of each child’s educational path as they begin their journey into the real world.

If you would like to help Art Buddies continue to unlock confidence through the arts, and help children build dreams, visit Art Buddies online or subscribe to learn more about volunteer and donation opportunities.