The Good Ol’ Days of Crayola Creativity

I can still remember hot summer days, sprawled out on my grandmother’s cool kitchen floor with nothing but a few scraps of paper and a bucket full of broken crayons to entertain me. I would scribble so furiously that the hours passed without my knowing and the day seemed to all blur together. My head was filled with so many ideas that I couldn’t quite convey and drawing was my outlet. While many people still have memories of building volcanoes and science projects, I remember being asked to draw images on my friend’s notebooks and hands. Later, I can recall getting recognized for my art. Most notably, winning an award for drawing my favorite Disney character. In case you’re wondering, it was Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast.

Drawing allowed me to explore my imagination in ways that many people are never able to do. I created whole worlds for myself. It helped me to make friends, to overcome challenges, and to embrace my emotions. This experience has been shared by many children across the globe. Teaching children about art improves their decision-making abilities, motor skills, and language development. It allows them greater cultural awareness, sparks innovation, and even improves their academic performance. In an article from PBS Kids, Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of the Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University, says “Parents need to be aware that children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than in the past. Children need to know more about the works than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Arts education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.”  The facts really speak for themselves. According to Americans for the Arts, “​A student involved in the arts is four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.” Not to toot my own horn, but I just happen to be living proof of this.


The Shift Away from the Arts

Sadly, in recent times many of our schools have developed a focus on common core curriculum which is primarily science and math driven. Because of this shift, the Arts have moved to the sideline. Arts education has been devalued within our schools and children are engaging less and less with hands on making. Americans for the Arts cites that “T​wo-thirds of public school teachers believe that the arts are getting crowded out of the school day.” Here in Rowan County, educators, artists, and parents are working hard to make sure that the Arts are accessible to all and this summer the opportunities abound! ​ Rowan-Salisbury School System (RSSS) became a renewal school district last August giving them the freedom to incorporate arts into their programs. Organizations throughout Rowan County are working to incorporate the Arts into festivals, Vacation Bible School programs, and summer camps.


Art Experiences Abound in Rowan County

For families looking to implement the Arts along with a wide variety of other activities, the YMCA Traditional Summer Camp is a wonderful option. The Saleeby-Fisher YMCA in Rockwell, NC offers camp weekly from June 10 – August 2. This option incorporates arts and crafts into each day, along with a wide variety of games, activities, and field trips. They also offer financial assistance to qualifying families in an effort to ensure that all families have access.  The Rowan branch of State Employees Credit Union (SECU) is now providing financial literacy to middle and high school students in our county through the “Reality of Money” simulation.

Did you know students with high arts participation and low socioeconomic status have a dropout rate that is five times lower than their low socioeconomic status peers? ​

The Summer Fun Days at the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC are another creative and fantastic option available June 20 – August 9.

Other area camps that have found unique ways to incorporate the Arts include the Summer Bike Camp at The Pedal Factory which implements three-dimensional design concepts, tools, and hands-on making to teach children how to build their own bike.

Additionally, the Summer Fun Camp at Happy Roots which runs from July 15-19, allows campers the chance to explore nature through hands-on activities paired with nature based arts and crafts.

For those looking for a more Arts intensive experience, Rowan Cabarrus Community College is offering a wide variety of summer camp opportunities including an Intro to Digital Photography course, an Improv on the Go course, and a variety of gaming and robotics courses which implement more complicated design concepts and opportunities for innovation.

Arts experiences that the whole family can enjoy include the Children’s Theatre performances and Jazz Concert Series offered on select dates at Veterans Park in Kannapolis and the Charlotte Symphony performance scheduled for June 29 in Village Park. To view the City of Kannapolis 2019 Calendar of Events, click here.


YMCA Summer Camp

YMCA Summer Camp

The Pedal Factory's Summer Bike Camp

The Pedal Factory’s Summer Bike Camp

Summer Fun Camp through Happy Roots

Summer Fun Camp through Happy Roots


Those long summer days spent scribbling away on my grandmother’s floor are long gone, but they have been replaced with wonderful and exciting opportunities to share the Arts with my own children. One of our favorite activities is to grab a brochure and check out Rowan County’s many public murals and sculptural works. We always seem to find something new and it’s completely free! You can pick up a Salisbury Sculpture Show guide at the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority at 204 East Innes Street in downtown Salisbury.


Bailey's children exploring local public murals.

Bailey’s children exploring local public murals.


In a world where we are heavily influenced by technology, digital design, brands, and visual stimuli, the ability to understand the history of art and design concepts is crucial. We need Arts education to create influential and innovative thinkers. Fortunately, for citizens in Rowan County, opportunities to teach our children about the Arts and to allow them a creative outlet seem to lie on every corner. Things may not be as they once were, but if we make the Arts a priority, there is a bright and beautiful future ahead for us all. I’m certain of it!