Giving Kids a Chance

By Barbara Lipsche, Mystic Museum of Art

When Carla Petrocelli realized seven-year-old Faith was visiting her home in Westerly, RI at the same time her daughter Alison was enrolled in Art Explorers, part of MMoA’s summer art camp series, she couldn’t think of a better experience than to have Faith join her daughter in the class.

“I wanted to give Faith a nurturing and creative outlet,” Carla says.

But one thing Carla hadn’t planned for was the unexpected cost of Faith’s enrollment. That’s when she stumbled upon information about MMoA’s Art for All scholarship program online, which in the last year provided a dozen children and adults free or low-cost enrollment in MMoA’s education programs. “I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask for Faith, as we were financially responsible for her entire visit.”

Faith’s visit was the first of what Carla hopes to be many from children participating in Fresh Air Fund, a non-profit working to give free summer vacations to inner-city children from low-income households in New York City. The organization supports over 9000 students each year, and besides summer vacations, it offers educational camps that enhance literacy and career skills at no cost.

“Faith was thrilled when she heard she would be attending art camp during her stay. I think the opportunity to create art that she could take home with her made a lasting, positive impression,” Carla says.

Faith and Alison

In 2012, Mystic Museum of Art distributed $1,250 in scholarships to give children and adults access to education programs. The fund, contributed to by Eric and Carol Natwig and Mystic Rotary paid for a range of classes including Art Explorer Camps — weekly children’s classes with projects in drawing, painting and media — and Figure Drawing to help adults and teens build technical drawing skills.

“When people’s budgets are tight, they find it hard to justify an expense like an art class,” explains MMoA’s Education Director, Dawn Salerno. “I think it’s fair to assume that in all scholarship cases, the student would not be here if it weren’t for the financial aid we extend to them.”

“MMoA really helped make Faith’s Fresh Air experience worthwhile,” Carla says. “My aunt and uncle were a host family when I was a kid and the same child would return year after year and it made a huge impression on me. I always wanted to participate if I had the means.”

Carla’s family, like many others across the country, help give children like Faith the chance to climb trees, run through grass and create lasting memories in rural environments.

And now, thanks to MMoA’s scholarship program, the chance to create art too.

Learn more about MMoA’s Art For All scholarship here, and read more about the Fresh Air Fund organization online at www.freshair.org.