Children Are The Hope – A Gallery Exhibit

Common Wealth GalleryThe Common Wealth Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin, will host a collection of nature-based artwork from elementary school students living around the southern half of Wisconsin and similar-aged students from north-central Cuba from May 26-31, 2014. The exhibit will be open from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm daily.  A reception will be held on Saturday, May 31, from 1:00-4:00, with refreshments being served. The Common Wealth Gallery is located at 100 South Baldwin Street, on the third floor of the historic Madison Enterprise Center building.

The artwork represents the capstone experience of students participating in an academic year-long program through Children Are The Hope, Inc. (CATH), a non-profit organization based in Reedsburg, Wisconsin.  Children Are The Hope reaches across barriers, such as politics, geography, and language, to nurture children’s knowledge of and sensitivity to nature and their global peers.  CATH integrates academics, environmental education, cultural connections, and creative expression to inspire stewardship of the earth.

Korie Klink, Executive Director and Founder of Children Are The Hope, works in partnership with Wisconsin and Cuban teachers and environmental educators to help students in grades 4-6 gain a sense of place and community through their academic studies, experiences with nature, and artistic creativity.   According to Klink, “The students in both countries take part in environmental education programming throughout the academic year, learning about each other’s culture and the natural resources that we all share, such as the Sandhill Crane and wetland systems. Students in both countries also create visual art “messages” illustrating their connections to cranes and nature and their knowledge and commitment to care for both.  By exchanging artwork between the countries, students see firsthand how their individual and collective decisions and actions impact the global community. Wisconsin’s Greater Sandhill Cranes are thriving; the Cuban Sandhill Cranes are endangered.  We have important stories to share through our art messages.”

“By caring for our cranes, we care for our world.  By caring for our world, we care for each other.  By caring for each other, we find hope,” shares Klink, who received her Master’s Degree in Environmental Education from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.

Klink’s research at UWSP measured how the Children Are The Hope program affects environmental sensitivity, environmental knowledge and responsible environmental behavior in 4th through 6th graders in Wisconsin and Cuba.  Her research revealed very personal stories of knowledge and special connections between the two groups of students and the natural communities around them.

One 5th grade student from Hawthorne Elementary School in Madison, was eager to share the very personal impacts from the CATH project.  “It made us change…to care; like making sure      you don’t litter.  Use your stuff before you throw it away.  It makes you want to use your resources and stuff and care for the animals and everything that lives there…”

Another 5th grader from Wisconsin shared, in response to her CATH experience, “We started an amazing journey willed with learning and excitement.  But, the most important thing about Children Are The Hope is we got to connect with our global friends.”

One of her classmates also noted, “I found out that children really are the hope for the world.”

Dr. Dan Sivek, Professor Emeritus at UW- Stevens Point and member of the CATH Board of Directors, notes, “Children Are The Hope is unique in several ways.  First, CATH involves interactions between children in two very different nations nurturing a sense of global community and partnership. CATH also includes art as an important medium of communication, developing respectful connections between cultures.  Children soon discover the importance of working together and develop a respect for themselves, each other, and the landscapes around them.  The impact is quite remarkable.”

Wisconsin’s landscapes share many characteristics with the Grand Wetland of the North region, the target for project work in north-central Cuba – extensive water systems and ecosystems that face a number of conservation challenges.   According to Klink, potential solutions depend upon the involvement and knowledge of local citizens, including young people.

Children Are The Hope partners with the Empresa Nacional para la Proteccion de la Flora y Fauna, a national entity who coordinates environmental education and environmental protection in Cuba.  In 2013-2014, 6 elementary schools from the southern half of Wisconsin participated in CATH programming; 8 primary and elementary schools from north-central Cuba took part. 

Children Are The Hope is dedicated to bringing Cuban and American students together through classroom environmental education experiences, outdoor learning opportunities, and an international nature-based art exchange.  The Common Wealth Gallery exhibit will share the CATH story and feature student artwork from both countries.

To learn more about the exhibit and Children Are The Hope, visit www.childrenarethehope.org or contact Korie Klink, Executive Director, at korie@childrenarethehope.org.  You can also find information at the CATH Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ChildrenAreTheHope.

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