Doodling for Social Change

When you were a kid you probably had different color crayons, markers, paints, and pencils that you used to paint and draw doodles – driving your mom insane when you used the walls as the base of your masterpieces. Can you imagine your childhood without those? Emma LaPlante couldn’t. That’s why she is part of the Art With a Heart (AWaH) Junior Board. Emma is working to provide children with the opportunity to express themselves and be creative in a peaceful and tranquil environment. Check out how this non-profit is changing the lives of little children and how you could contribute too! Who/what inspired you to take action around this issue?

Emma LaPlante: My interest in taking on more of a leadership role in the community began when I participated in the Youth Leadership Initiative program through United Way, which trained and ultimately placed us all with a local nonprofit. My nonprofit is Art With a Heart, a program offering art classes to underprivileged kids in the Indianapolis area – perfect because I love the arts and I love children even more. Before I began work on the AWaH Junior Board, I volunteered in a summer classroom at Holy Family Shelter where AWaH was hosting a camp. Working with the kids there was an absolute joy and it was here that I became truly inspired to expand the Junior Board, both by getting involved with the AWaH mission and by creating a mission of our own.

DS: What makes your project unique?

EL: Our project is unique because of the immediate, tangible influence our work has on the kids. Rather than working for something abstract, we've realized the need to actually put these art supplies into the children's hands as soon as possible. Most of us take simple art supplies for granted because we have always had them around, but many kids are not so lucky. Watching the joy that handing crayons or colored pencils brings to someone who does not normally have access to them is inspiring.

DS: What is one moment that stands out where you knew you were making a difference?

EL: Recently, a boy at Holy Family told me that coming to our art class is his favorite part of the day. The safe and positive environment that we provide is invaluable to kids like him. It's vital to a healthy childhood to have a place to unwind and create. For many of these kids, our class is their only opportunity to do that. I am very grateful that I get to be part of that experience with them, but I am especially thrilled that, thanks to the efforts of the Junior Board as a whole, we get to provide the kids with their own art supplies so they can continue to create.

DS: How is this grant money going to help you expand your project?

EL: This grant money will tremendously expand our project because it will allow us to have much more freedom to buy more art supplies in the future. It gives us a tremendous cushion that will help us jump start the year.

DS: If you could have one superpower what would it be?

EL: I would forgo a superpower in favor of having Hermione Granger's Time-Turner in The Prisoner of Azkaban. Between schoolwork, various performing arts groups, and trying to be as involved as possible with my school and community, I feel like there are never enough hours in the day. If I had the Time-Turner, I would use the extra time to read more books, spend more time working with kids, become Batman, and catch up on “Grey's Anatomy.”

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