An arts program created by a Kansas University design department lecturer was recently acknowledged for the third consecutive year by the National Endowment for the Arts as a recipient of the Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth grant.
In August 2001, Linda Blaha-Kemnitzer, a part-time lecturer in the department, created the Arts Program for Children and Youth at reStart, a homeless shelter in Kansas City where she has worked for the past six years as arts program director. Kemnitzer wanted to create a program that would provide ongoing professional arts instruction to homeless children ages 5-18.
The program started when she initiated art projects with elementary school children who lived at reStart, and as the program developed, field trips to various local museums were added and monthly Saturday workshops were created, supported by various volunteers.
In 2006, the Arts Program at reStart received $20,000, and this year the NEA has awarded reStart $35,000. Kemnitzer said the funding would allow the program to bring in additional professional artists and sponsor numerous arts events.
She added that the funding also would accommodate the increasing number of homeless children and provide transportation for them to attend activities.