Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Artful Living and Learning Program
Artful Living and Learning (AL&L) is a research-based, early childhood, educational program that shows an association between improved academic achievement and creativity through immersion in the fine arts in preschool classrooms. Christopher Craft and Wilbur Arnold founded the program in 2007 in the Massillon Museum and Massillon City School District in conjunction with the Canton Symphony. They put into practice what research has shown: stimulating creativity through the arts leads to improved academic achievement.
Over the ten years since its founding, AL&L has grown. In the 2017-18 school year, nearly 1,300 students in the Stark County area enjoyed two to four 20-minute lessons each week for 25 weeks. Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) data (2014) demonstrate that Stark County 4th grade children who were in the AL&L program outperformed their counterparts in science, social studies, math and language arts.
Last month, AL&L held a 10th Year Celebration Luncheon. In her introductory remarks, current Program Director, Gail Martino, reinforced the mission of the program and the vision of transforming the lives of children and families through the power of the arts. Christopher Craft, co-founder and former Director, addressed the capacity crowd. Chris stated, "'Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire' and Artful Living and Learning has been sparking fires in Stark County learning for ten years!" "These little cherub faces look up at you with their big eyes and their lights shine so bright. How can we not bring arts into their lives when we know the academic and social emotional benefits?"
Keynote speaker Donna Collins, Executive Director of the Ohio Arts Council (OAC), shared the work of OAC and the power of the arts to expand thinking and creativity. Collins recognized Senator Scott Oelslager for his dedication to the arts and his advocacy to reinstate needed funding. Sen. Oelslager thanked everyone for all that they do to support the arts - especially around AL&L. Collins, who brings with her years of experience in and around Ohio and Stark County, spoke highly about the program's strengths.
A mother and her young daughter (an alumna of the Artful Living and Learning program) shared their experiences with the audience. The student remembers being introduced to the trumpet in the program. This inspired her to pursue learning the instrument which she now plays in her middle school band. The mother explained that weekly exposure to music, art, dance and drama benefited both of her children - including academically. She went on to thank everyone involved for investing their time, resources and talents.
To become a partner in this important work, please contact Gail Martino, Program Director, at 330-492-8136.
 William Butler Yeats