This week we stopped in to the oLo Gallery on 504 San Francisco St in the Union Plaza District, home to Creative Kids. We had a moment to speak with Stephen and Andrea Ingle co-Founders of Creative Kids, in the wake of their national accolade that took them all the way to the White House.
DMD: Let’s get right to it. The Whitehouse recently presented Creative Kids with the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award for Project AIM (Arts in Motion), can you explain what that project is? Project AIM was Creative Kids first program that we started 14-years ago. It is a visual arts program for pediatric oncology patients at Providence Children’s Hospital and El Paso Children’s Hospital. This is a very special program that is near and dear to all of us here at Creative Kids.
DMD: People do think about the mental and emotional effects of illness but focus on the physical aspects, what kind of results or changes have you seen in these children? We always like to say that the doctor’s take care of the physical and we take care of the mental. The arts are very therapeutic and cathartic. If you think about it, if Creative Kids was not in these hospital settings, these children would be stuck in their hospital rooms staring at the white walls thinking about their disease and pain. We have seen a huge change in these patients as they are engaged in the program. They go from one of fear and anxiety to calm and relaxed focusing on their artwork. Many times they express their pain and fear in their paintings which we think is important because they are able to articulate their feelings in a positive and expressive way that is not intrusive.
DMD: Did you feel like this award somehow validated all of the work you have done thus far? To have this program recognized nationally by the First Lady is huge for us. We really feel like all the passion, persistence and perseverance has finally paid off and we have seen people take notice of the importance of our work and the impact it makes. We hope that this will take us to the next level, which is to “franchise” this program to other communities across the United States.
DMD: Considering the population and expanse of the city of El Paso why have you chosen Downtown for your organization to be located? When we first opened oLo in 2006 in the Union Plaza, there wasn’t much happening down here. We really saw the potential and thought about the kids in the program and the access they would have to the museums, library and the Plaza Theater. We feel investing in Downtown was the best investment we could have made. The growth we are witnessing is a testament to the vision we saw seven years.
DMD: Being that your organization specializes in the arts, what kind of vision do you see for Downtown El Paso? The vision we are seeing for Downtown is happening as we speak. Locally owned bike shops, restaurants, specialty boutiques, a salon, architectural firms and even housing is the synergy that is needed for a downtown to thrive and survive. It just takes one entrepreneur to see the potential, which in turns causes the chain reaction and the entire community ends up benefitting.
DMD: How do you hope to further impact not only children but Downtown itself in the future? We are about to launch a capital campaign next year that will expand oLo and our services to the community. We are adding a third floor to the gallery that will include more studio spaces for the children in the program, a roof-top garden, an artist-in-residence space and an event space that would be open-air.
DMD: Please tell us about your upcoming event, “Shopping with Purpose”, being hosted -Thursday Dec 12, from 7-9pm? On Thursday, we are having our 5th annual oLo Shopping Night – “Shopping with a Purpose” underwritten by Providence Children’s Hospital. It is a fun night with live music by Grau Jazz, food, drinks and merchandise that is for sale – all of the merch is designed by the children in the program. We will also have a pair of Southwest Airlines tickets to be given away through a raffle, fun silent auction items and artwork that guests will have a chance at through a Chinese raffle. The best part is that 100% of the proceeds that are raised that evening are reinvested into the program.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at the DMD. You can contact Creative Kids at 915.533.9575 and visit their website creativekidsart.org