This is the second in a series of posts documenting the Surfer’s Guide to the Universe surfboard art project (see the first post describing the project here).
Last week brought the most wonderful opportunity to preview the kind of educational work I’d like to be doing more of with a Surfer’s Guide to the Universe. One of the primary reasons I selected Imogene Drummond as my artistic partner for this board is because of her ongoing project called Divine Sparks, which includes an innovative art and creativity program for kids. With Divine Sparks (literally), Imogene has been working with a class of 10-11 year-old boys in a youth-at-risk school called San Miguel Academy in a part of Newburgh, NY that is plagued by drugs and poverty.
When Imogene raised the possibility of my giving a Surfer’s Guide presentation to her group of kids, I jumped at the opportunity. I brought one of my wooden surfboards and Imogene’s painted panel and we had a conversation about inspiration, creativity and nature. I also shared a fun little video clip that shows how nature inspires my own creativity. Imogene then shared her experience of our collaboration in Martha’s Vineyard, and how the light, water and serenity there inspired her painting. As her educational work aims to ignite empowerment using creativity, she also facilitated a fun art activity to help the boys visually express their ideas for their own personal development.
Words now fail to express how uplifting this experience was for me. It was truly inspirational because the kids were fantastic and showed so much promise. I was simply amazed by these boys and the work being done at San Miguel’s.
I have been thinking about my experience and it makes me ebullient to have witnessed the kinds of transformations being fostered by people like Imogene with Divine Sparks, and Fr. Mark Connell, and teachers Kerry DiMeo and Frank Snyder at San Miguel Academy. When I consider their work along with the transformations I have seen in my own students of Big History (not to mention the changes we currently see happening in the Catholic Church), I am truly uplifted.
This experience has refilled me with great hope. So, to Imogene, Fr. Mark and Kerry, THANK YOU! You are all doing such wonderful and important work. But most of all, thank you to the boys at San Miguel’s Academy for teaching me so much and being so inspirational!