Editorial: The canvas painters of Chester County
● By Richard Gaw
The early canvases of most children in Chester County are kaleidoscopes that burst forth with the colors that illuminate opportunity, accessibility and experiences, but for hundreds of other children who live in the shadows of this good fortune, their canvases remain in tabula rasa blankness, fighting to be considered among all of the rainbow paintings.
By the time that child reaches adulthood, too often, the paint on that canvas begins to dry.
Since it began in 2013, Arts Holding Hands and Hearts, Inc. (AHHAH) has become the color-makers for more than 10,000 children and adults in Chester County.
Led by a simple and direct vision that every child in Chester County deserves the tools and opportunities they need in order to reach their highest capacity, AHHAH has created a plan that addresses the needs of each child by engaging them in the arts; in exercises that improve their reading, writing and communication skills; and exposing them to movement, music, yoga and mindfulness.
Traditionally, there have been two methods of providing assistance and opportunity to those less fortunate: Create a space and wait for them to come to you; and using the community as your workshop, in partnership with other agencies.
Clearly, AHHAH has chosen the latter: they offer gentle yoga for women at the Coatesville Public Library; yoga, mindfulness and arts programs at the Chester County Youth Detention Center; and have created pop-up libraries – known as the P.U.L.L. Campaign – in conjunction with the Kennett and Coatesville libraries. They also offer creative movement, music, yoga and mindfulness programs to more than 400 children in Coatesville, Kennett Square, West Chester and Downingtown.
Guided by paintbrushes, AHHAH empowers youth, strengthens families, and mobilizes communities through literacy, mindfulness and expressive arts. May they continue to paint our towns – and the canvases of those who are truly most worthy – with the colors of hope and opportunity.
To learn more about Arts Holding Hands and Hearts, Inc., visit www.AHHAH.org, or call 484-883-2367.