On May 19, five-year-old Joseph Falcon-Kienbaum set out to help others by walking around the school track with others involved in Motivating Kids to Give. Who knew his little legs could take him 10 times around and raise $250 for the charity of his choice. The charity he chose was Studio 84, a non-profit community art studio and gallery located in downtown Whitewater.
Motivating Kids to Give was created by 12-year-old Morgan Radaj to teach young people that they too can make a difference. Radaj was only nine when she started it.
Each participant selects the charity of their choice to make the giving more meaningful. Some are national charities and some are local ones like Studio 84 that Falcon-Kienbaum chose.
Deborah Blackwell, director of Studio 84, said the funds that Joseph raised would go towards the scholarship fund and youth at risk programing. The scholarship fund helps those with disabilities who do not have finances to take a class in art.”
Blackwell states that often people come to us from group homes and the funding is not available for them to participate in activities that we take so for granted. Having a scholarship fund helps us provide these opportunities for them for free or at a greatly reduced cost.
Our youth at risk programing provides art and theater experiences for a wide range of youth who are identified to be at risk of potentially failing school due to numerous factors in their lives from a learning disability, to mental illness, to unstable home lives and many more.
Programing in the arts provides all with positive activities, one-on-one mentorship to gain skills in the arts, and increases self-esteem.
Falcon-Kienbaum is also a student at Studio 84 and not only has being in a creative environment helped him with several aspects of being autistic, but he has also made a difference in several of his artistic colleagues at the Studio.
Blackwell says, that some people with autism often have tactile sensory issues. Joseph is quickly learning to overcome some of those through art materials and already has used messy materials his mother never thought he would use.
While not always present in everyone with autism, Joseph is very verbal and has an incredible vocabulary, but as with many who are autistic he has difficulty with socialization and initiating conversations with others.
Blackwell recalls the day Joseph took over the class, “It was amazing to watch this little guy completely take over the class that day, he went up to each student and asked about their art and made suggestions and comments about what he liked. He helped Mike, an older gentleman find all the places on his canvas that still needed paint. He was able to get Mike to get so much more done in such a short time it was amazing to see how he responded to Joseph. And with Steven, another older gentleman who doesn’t talk much, Joseph had him talking like we’ve never heard before.”
Blackwell says, “Joseph has not only changed because of the arts, but he is changing others too, so it was great to see him participate in Motivating Kids to Give and choose Studio 84 for his charity. His giving financially like this is being paid forward on so many levels.”
For information about Motivating Kids to Give, visit www.motivatingkidstogive.com.
To learn more about how to help others through the arts at Studio 84, visit www.studio84inc.org.