reStart, Inc. (Kansas City, MO)

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    Two photos - one of a small girl ibetween elements of a metal sculpture, the other of a young boy sitting with a pool of water behind him. 

Jalen and Alicia, both seven years old, learned to use digital cameras and edit their prints through a reStart photography workshop with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Dan White. Photos by Jalen and Alicia of each other, courtesy of reStart

When you are living on the streets, the arts may not be your first concern. But the arts can make a difference in homeless children’s lives by nurturing their desire to learn and think creatively. And that is why reStart, Inc., an interfaith, overnight emergency shelter, began its Arts at reStart program with assistance from an NEA Learning in the Arts grant of $20,000 in FY 2006.

“The homeless children’s incredible creative imaginations and talents are reinvigorated by learning, experiencing, and participating in arts units with Kansas City’s finest arts educators,” said Linda Kemnitzer, administrator of the Arts at reStart program. The program provides participants with three levels of ongoing professional arts instruction: live experience of multidisciplinary arts on- and off-site, curriculum-based hands-on study of arts disciplines, and presentations of participants’ work. In July 2006 and January, February, and May 2007, Arts at reStart students participated in units on digital photography, poetry, and the painter Thomas Hart Benton. Classes met two to five times per week for 120 minutes, providing 15 hours of learning in each discipline. Field trips included a visit to the Truman Museum to view Benton’s mural Opening to the West and to the American Jazz Museum to view portraits by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Dan White, who also led the digital photography workshops. At the end of each unit student work was displayed at reStart.

During the project, participants also attended workshop opera rehearsals at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, a performance of The Mikado by Paul Mesner’s Puppets, and a production of Geppetto & Son by Coterie Theatre. Two-hundred-and-thirty homeless children and youth benefited from the program.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)