Almost Everything is Art: Jeida's story
When Jeida and Christine first met, they were a little bit nervous. It was the first time that either of them was matched with a mentor or mentee for the SMART (Supportive Mentoring through ART) program. Soon after, the pair rolled up their sleeves and bonded making drawings and sculptures, “my favorite thing that I made was a clay plate that turned into a pizza. It was supposed to be a plate, but it was a triangle, so I added parts and squiggly shapes to make it look like a pizza," says the high school student.
Each year, 20 youth and their mentors from Starfish Initiative and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana work one-on-one with professional artists in classes at the Art Center. The program is designed to provide advanced opportunities for youth who are underserved or facing significant life challenges though high-quality classes, field trips and workshops.
In Jeida’s case, it provided her with free art classes when she needed them the most, “she has always loved art but wasn’t able to take art classes in high school because her IEP (Individualized Education Program) didn’t include any”, says Jeida’s mom Jessi.
After completing a full year of classes each student is awarded a certificate of completion. Several outstanding students are chosen to continue increasing their artistic engagement, art making skills and knowledge of careers and resources through an extended program called SMART+. Jeida is now in the SMART + Program and is excited to use different materials to learn more about art. “Something that I learned is that almost everything is art. I look at everything in an art way. Looking outside, everywhere, everything is different. In school it has helped me with communication, it has made me more positive and happy,” she says.
SMART has made a difference in Jeida’s life. Without it, she would have not found an outlet for her creativity. But the positive impact extends beyond Jeida’s everyday life, Jeida’s mom is able to provide her daughter with a place to nurture what makes her special and original.
As a mentor, Christine has also experienced a change in her life, “Jeida continues to teach me a lot as our relationship grows. Jeida is an amazing person. She's always open to trying new things, which encourages me to be more open as well. She is an optimist and a hard worker. Even when she struggles in some areas, she always tries her best and it shows." This is a great trait and a reminder for all of us as well.