OUR MISSION (con't)
Perhaps you grew up loving music, dance, drama, visual arts or creative writing. If you did, then you understand how important these activities are.
Imagine the excitement of a child learning to play their very first song on the piano. Or when a child finally perfects a dance routine they have been practicing for weeks. It gives a feeling of accomplishment that can be seen in a radiating smile.
The director and founder of Arts 4 All Kids is Karen Pincombe. Karen, together with her husband, Brian Ratcliffe, and the support of the community, continue to keep this program alive. Karen and Brian are both professionally trained musicians who love sharing their passion for the arts with kids in need.
Arts 4 All Kids operates under the umbrella of the London and Area Food Bank Inc. This means that the London Food Bank is able to expand its service to the community by hosting our program. We are grateful for their support in the creative nurturing of the children that come through their doors.
We believe community involvement is necessary if all children are to have the opportunity to experience the arts as a life-enhancing, and often life-changing, activity. So we rely heavily on the efforts of our wonderful volunteers.
We provide a club environment in which children may participate in two artistic areas of study. Our enthusiastic volunteer instructors help the children learn basic concepts in their chosen artistic activity.
If you share our vision and would like to be involved, stop by on a Monday evening and see the smiles for yourself.
You can also contact us to volunteer or kindly make a charitable donation so ‘Our Mission’ can live on.
BRIAN RATCLIFFE, Co-Director
ABOUT US (con't)
Arts 4 All Kids is a non-profit organization that opened its doors in the fall of 1988. It’s a place where kids are free to express themselves.
For 30 years we have been putting smiles on kid's faces.
HOW IT WORKS (con't)
Every fall, Arts for All Kids actively promotes the program through the Thames Valley District School Board to priority schools with a higher demographic of families with limited financial means.
The ideal enrollment per term is 65 students, which enables Arts for All Kids to provide personalized arts instruction and attention to each child participant. Most kids who enter the program are keen to return every year (often with their siblings) until they ‘age out’ at thirteen. At that time, many of them rejoin the program as high school mentors.
Since its inception, Arts for All Kids has remained 100% volunteer-run, from the executive director to all teaching staff and support volunteers.
Arts For All Kids enjoys great consistency with its volunteer teaching staff, attracting highly skilled artists and musicians who are community-minded and passionate about sharing their talents. Twenty to thirty instructors (Retired Teachers, Local Artists and High School Mentors) often return year after year because of the program’s powerful impact on the lives of the children, the families, and themselves.
OUR HISTORY (con't)
As Karen explains, “The purpose of the camp was to offer kids things they wouldn’t normally have a chance to do”. Every Sunday afternoon, 100 new campers would arrive in buses, and Karen’s job was to produce a musical with these kids by the end of that week.
As the days progressed, she realized that “so many of these kids were keen for an opportunity to do something like this. But at the end of the week they would be going home with no chance to pursue any fine arts lessons”.
That fall, she was volunteering at the London Food Bank, but memories of her summer experience continued to tug at her. She wondered, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could do something like that here at the Food Bank?” With encouragement from London Food Bank co-director Glen Pearson, and support from friends, she along with her friend, Sylvia, launched a little “Piano Club” - group piano lessons, music theory games and songs - with six children from El Salvador and Guatemala.
“I taught on my grandmother’s big old upright piano in the Food Bank basement, surrounded by boxes of potatoes and canned corn,” she laughs. “But the kids seemed to really love it.”
In no time, six kids grew to twenty five and other artists began to request a chance to volunteer their skills in the program. The first was a woman who wanted to teach poetry, followed by another individual who offered their skills in visual art. By 1990, the program name was changed to Arts 4 All Kids with five program options: Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Music and Visual Arts.
As Karen says, “I didn’t plan this. It isn’t something I could ever have dreamt up. It happened because of other artists came to us wanting to share their talents with the kids, and we said, “Yes”.
Throughout the years that followed, Arts for All Kids continued to bloom through the ever-vigilant love and guidance of Karen and her husband Brian Ratcliffe (co-director), the unflagging support of the London Food Bank, valuable assistance from organizations like London Community Foundation, and a devoted and growing group of volunteers and supporters.
Arts 4 All Kids believes the arts are for everyone and have the power to transform lives. Watching a child smile as they have their dream of playing an instrument, dancing, creating art, acting or writing a story come true and seeing the children grow in confidence and self-esteem is worth all the time given by our volunteers and benefactors.
Karen says, “I’ve always believed that arts are for everyone and that art has the power to transform lives. Arts 4 All Kids is a testament to that belief. It is a privilege to see the kids eyes light up as they have their dream of taking lessons come true. Their excitement, enthusiasm, joy, growing confidence and self-esteem have transformed my own life. I am so grateful for this journey.”