SNOQUALMIE, Wash. — Amy Friedman, an award winning art educator and the CEO and Founder of Smart with Art, had planned to unveil her Art Avenue Bus in March, "I had talked about this for ten years. This was a dream to have this bus to go to school bring art and I wanted to do it for free."
But Covid-19 cancelled its grand opening and at the same time many children lost access to art classes due to remote learning.
Friedman's Smart with Art program was serving more than one hundred public and private schools. In the online format, that number has dropped to 25.
Despite the challenges, Friedman is still determined to find ways to put art in the hands of children. She is now selling ready-to-go Art Curriculum Kits for individual families. They come with 6 different lesson plans, all the supplies and the instructions.
"I feel so strongly about art in a child's life. Social emotional learning right now is huge and kids need a creative outlet. Math and science are important, but if you don't have a way to express yourself during a difficult time, it's hard," explained Friedman.
Friedman knows first hand the impact of art, especially for people and children who have experienced trauma, "My husband passed away close to 5 years ago and my kids have used art. I've used art as a medium to work through a lot of grief."
After the loss, she got involved with the non profit Art with Heart and used art journaling to help heal. She believes especially now, children need access to the power of art.
In addition to the online classes and curriculum kits, Friedman is finding ways to put the Art Avenue Bus to use. She's hosting small gatherings, like pandemic pod groups. Many parents are excited to have the resource.
Friedman says it's equally rewarding to her to know her artistic outlets are making a difference, "It's exciting when I go online and the teacher says we have art and the kids go yay! I can't be much happier than that."