Far from the yellow brick road

Partners children forge relationships by building scarecrows

— Jailei and Missy are singers, fraternal twin sisters and scarecrows.

They are part of the "Adopt a Scarecrow" project, which is a pilot art program for Partners in Routt County. It uses art mentoring to teach about art and encourage youths to build relationships with adult volunteers.

Marcie, who has been creating Jailei, likes the program because she was able to design and decorate Jailei however she wanted to.

"You get to use your own style and can express yourself," Marcie said. "You also get to pick out her clothes, and I love to pick out clothes."

There are six children ages 8 to 16, who are building scarecrows that will make their public debut next weekend. The scarecrows will be auctioned off after Labor Day.

Suzy Holloran, who came up with the idea for the project, hopes sales from the auction will raise money for next year's project.

"I wanted to try to start an art project, but of course funds are not available," Holloran said. "We are doing this pilot program to see how the kids respond to it, and they respond really well."

Art mentoring has many benefits.

"They get to use their imagination, share with each other and it gives them self-esteem and confidence," Holloran said. "It teaches them to finish something when they start a project and have that satisfaction."

The children have created a family of scarecrows, but not in the traditional sense of the word.

"We've created our own unique family that represents some of the population that we are working with," said Libby Foster, case manager for Partners. "There is not necessarily a dad, but more of a stepdad or uncle. We are also assigning them personalities."

Each scarecrow will have a name and a biography written by the children.

"These kids have really created some art that is not only unique relative to other art, but unique among themselves," Foster said. "They are super creative."

Another benefit of the project is the relationships the children are building with one another.

"It's fun to see different ages interact and really bonding, as a group, which is something we were really hoping for for these kids," Foster said. "They have really stepped up and are working hard."

---- To reach Allison Plean, call 871-4204

or e-mail aplean@steamboatpilot.com

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