Arts-Kids and Holy Cross Ministries creatively reach out to Park City’s Latino community | ParkRecord.com

Arts-Kids and Holy Cross Ministries creatively reach out to Park City’s Latino community

Arts-Kids and Holy Cross Ministries are forging a partnership with the aim of teaching life skills through creativity to children in the local Latino community.

The program, which will be introduced and facilitated by Arts-Kids Executive Director "Cowboy Ted" Hallisey, will be incorporated into Holy Cross Ministries' school readiness program, said Miriam Garcia, who coordinates the effort.

"The plan is that Ted will come every Wednesday to help the children develop motor skills and improve their coordination and balance through art," Garcia said. "He will also coach the children how to use creativity to understand their emotions and deal with each other."

The school readiness program, which will start this year on Sept. 4, is offered to low-income families with children who are ages 3 and 4 in Park City, according to Garcia.

The idea is not to take the families out of their comfort zones, but to expand the comfort zones...”“Cowboy Ted” Hallisey,Arts-Kids executive director

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Presently, there are 22 children, many of whom are Latino, enrolled in the class, she said.

"We will probably divide the children into two groups and have another volunteer help with one group while Ted works with the other," Garcia said. "Then they'll switch groups."

The coordinator said these activities will be an addition to standard classroom programs.

"These teaching also help children learn colors, shapes, social and emotional skills, but having someone like Ted come in gives the children a different type of activity," Garcia said. "Having him come in every week will develop some consistency, and the children will get to know him."

Hallisey said his addition to the school readiness program is part of the nonprofit's mission to empower children through art, and the partnership with Holy Cross is modeled after Arts-Kids' summer program that also includes wellness education.

"All of the life skills taught include finding happy places and ways to cope with crisis," he said. "I also want what we pass on to be shared with their parents, especially with those families who may be new to the United States and are trying to acclimate themselves to the country."

The program is intended to let the participating children become the teachers in their homes.

"The kids who pick up these life skills can take them home and show Mom, Dad and their brothers and sisters," Hallisey said. "The idea is not to take the families out of their comfort zones, but to expand the comfort zones."

The expressive arts, that includes books, will help do that, he said.

"For example, we have books in both Spanish and English that the kids can take home and read with their families," Hallisey said. "That way parents who want to learn how to read English can do it without having to read in front of a crowd of strangers."

Holy Cross Ministries is a Park City-based Catholic nonprofit that focuses on underserved families' need for health and well being, regardless of religion, according to Garcia.

"We connect people to community services, and we assist individuals and families towards independence and full participation in the community," she said.

If the Arts-Kids weekly session succeeds, Hallisey would like to organize another weekly program at Aspen Village, the Park City apartment complex where many of the participating families live.

For information about the partnership between Holy Cross Ministries and Arts-Kids, visit http://www.hcmutah.org and arts-kids.org.