When COVID-19 shut down the Bellevue Arts Museum and its programming, educators knew they had to find a way to still fulfill their mission.
An idea to help engage children stuck at home has led to a months-long creative endeavor.
Educators at the Bellevue Arts Museum put together a new craft project and distribute them to students in the Bellevue School District.
Since March 2020, they've been delivering roughly 200 craft kits per week.
Projects include making homemade chalk, watercolors, and star catchers. All materials are included in the kits and they come with detailed instructions.
Those with access to the internet can even watch a video.
"I know that not everyone has a super well-stocked craft closet. And we have all these resources and a lot of creativity and we really miss our community. So it's just as much a gift for us to be doing this because we miss getting crafty with our families and friends at the museum," said Mary Kate Anselmini, who serves at the Education Manager at the Bellevue Arts Museum.
The school district distributed the kits through their Family Connection Centers, where families in need can go to get food and hygiene items.
"The kids are so excited; and families that have come in are thrilled because it's something that feels kind of normal during a really challenging time. Kids can take these kits home and have some fun with arts and crafts," said Melissa Slater with the Bellevue School District.
She said the needs of families in the school district have only grown since the pandemic began. "At the beginning of the school closure, we were seeing roughly 200 families, and right before shifting into summer, we were seeing closer to 650 families a week. And so there was a significant number coming for supplemental food and hygiene and cleaning supplies."
The Bellevue Arts Museum hopes to keep this program going, and perhaps provide some relief.
"Kids, they are not in school. They're used to a very structured life, so you are thrown back into an unstructured life, which I think for kids can be difficult and then it's difficult for parents because they're also at home, explained Ben Heywood, the Executive Director and Chief Curator for the Bellevue Arts Museum.
BAM says this wouldn't have been possible without T-Mobile, the original sponsor of the museum's live free family days, and agreed to pivot and support the craft kit project.