ARTreach Program aids in the acculturation process and helps refugees learn to speak English
ARTreach is bringing visual and theater art classes to the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program in Houston to help children arriving from Burma learn to speak English. The summer ARTreach project was made possible thanks to donations from Berryhill of Cinco Ranch and an intern grant from Shell Oil.
Refugee children often arrive in the United States unable to speak English, and unfamiliar with the American culture. They suffer from the stress associated with family instability and face enormous challenges throughout their acculturation process. This Refugee Resettlement Program is directed by Kai Houston of Catholic Charities to give the extra attention and practice children require while learning to speak, read, and write . The program also gives the children the structure they need and an opportunity to practice the social skills necessary to be successful in a learning environment.
ARTreach is supporting the art educational aspects of this unique program to aid in the acculturation process. “Art and Drama is providing a key component in bridging the diverse communication gaps between the refugee children.” says Kai, “These children are between the ages of 6-14 years old, they have lived in refugee camps most of their lives, now they are in the United States, and art becomes their universal language.”
The objectives associated with the ARTreach program are aimed at aiding in relationship building and social skills development, to stimulate the creative thinking process, and to support the children in adapting quickly and more completely to their new American home environment. The summer theater arts program was directed by ARTreach intern Taylor Dolan, she brought in a team of volunteers to support the project and help teach the children to speak English with confidence. “I am the King” is one of the lines rehearsed and recited by Thant, an eleven year and participant in the play. Dolan developed the script “The Rabbit and the King” based on a Burmese Folk Tale that related concepts the children learned in their home country to their new life in America. In July, artist and volunteer David Jaros will be joining the team to help the children paint an expressive work of art on canvas that relates to their transition.
ARTreach has a goal to continue the art and theater program for the children enrolled in the refugee resettlement program for the school year.
This is a support project funded through ARTreach, because social service agencies are finding it difficult to budget for art programs in addition to their overwhelming needs associated with providing for basic welfare. “But we know art is fundamental to basic welfare and a key to education,” explains Terri Bieber, Executive Director of ARTreach, “As an advocacy organization, we are seeking improved funding for the arts in Texas, and our outreach remains committed to providing the teaching artists and volunteers necessary to deliver quality art and theater art programs that will educate and help children in need”.
Please be a sponsor of this important program! $3,600 annually will assure this resettlement program has professional artists, drama coaches and mentors attending weekly. Donations in kind are also needed for art supplies for 45 children per day. Contact ARTreach for more information at [email protected].