When the right opportunity comes along...

September 4, 2017

Last winter, I was running an art class after school at Vancouver Talmud Torah. I was busy with work and studies, and this class offered me a break from all my heavy duties. The group consisted of 21 happy and creative kids and since we were all pleased with how things were going, I was considering opening a second class after the Spring break. The challenge was finding a space where I could run and grow my art programs. One day, as I was walking by the hallways of the school, I realized that there were a few empty classes in the old wing of the school. I went to have a look and found one class that had a sink and plenty of natural light. I fell in love with the space and envisioned its potential. I quickly wrote a proposal to the leadership team of the school and told them that I would like to run an "Art school-after-school" program. I carefully designed a bunch of different classes for different age groups and planned a business projection for the first year. The school loved the proposal and after a few meetings, I was ready to start the renovations. Eventually I had to wait until the end of the school year to begin painting, changing, moving and renovating used chairs, tables and shelves but meanwhile I opened a second class and enjoyed teaching. By the end of June, I was ready to begin! The classroom was in a bad shape because it has not been used for a long time and things were looking very dull.

 The room by the end of June, before renovations started.

 We removed the old boards from the walls and found countless holes from all the years of teaching.

 

Through out the summer, I spent hours working on this potential space. I received a donation of old furniture, chairs and tables, that I decided to paint over because they were black, dirty and especially... BORING!

 

 Last July, painting the old furniture.

 

My vision was to create a place where kids will feel like they are doing art at home. Since the studio is located at a school and the kids come straight from a long day of classes, I thought it will be important to design a space that will help them transition from "school" mode to a "creative" and "happy" mode. The room has plenty of natural light, a big rug with pillows and cushions to sit on the floor, an armchair with a crochet blanket, a low table to sit around and draw, cut and glue and of course there are many dolls, pompons and whimsical objects on shelves and hanging from the ceiling.

 

 Close-ups from all the small details that make the room so special.

 

Last July, during my trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, I enjoyed buying cute little things to add to the magic of the space such as pompons, tin animals, stuffed animals and fabrics.

 

 Buying colorful pompons from a friendly boy on the streets of Oaxaca, Mexico.

 

Once the room was completed, I wanted to check the positive effect of the new space on the kids. On August 28th was the first day of "Yoga & Art" summer camp and when I saw the happy faces of the kids and heard their loud screams of joy, I realized that my vision was achieved. During the week of camp, I stopped for a few minutes each day to look at the kids and to witness their enjoyment. I believe and hope that the positive impact of this program will stay in the kids' hearts for years to come.

 Now, every time I enter this room, I feel happy right away!

 

"The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become" with love, Jazmin