Each kit contains markers, crayons, paper, coloring books, colored pencils, and gel pens and is meant to help kids cope with their feelings.
Chelsea Phaire has been putting her lockdown stir-craziness to good use these past few weeks. The 10-year-old came up with an incredible initiative to spread some much-needed cheer and colors in the lives of kids in homeless shelters and foster care homes during the pandemic by sending them art kits. She has sent kits to over 1,500 kids so far, with each kit containing markers, crayons, paper, coloring books, colored pencils, and gel pens. Chelsea's lockdown efforts are a part of a charity organization founded by her and her parents which kicked off on her 10th birthday last year.
"Since she was seven, she was begging me and her dad to start a charity," Chelsea's mom, Candace Phaire, told CNN. "She was so persistent, every couple of months she would ask, 'Are we starting Chelsea's Charity yet?' When she was turning 10, she asked us again, and we decided it was time to go for it." Chelsea's Charity finally came into being on the 6th grader's birthday in August 2019 when she asked her guests to bring art supplies as a donation in lieu of gifts for her. After her birthday party, she compiled her first 40 art kits from the donations and sent them out to a homeless shelter in New York.
Determined to send out more art kits, the family set up an Amazon wishlist full of art supplies through which they receive more donations. When they've received enough art supplies for the kits, they pack up the kits and deliver them to kids in person. Our daughter Chelsea has a desire to support children that may not be in a position to receive art supplies to create their own art projects and "keep the arts in their lives no matter what" (as she says). With the help of her village, Chelsea will be assembling art kits with various supplies for children and distributing them throughout the year, the wishlist page states. Many of you have asked about how to contribute, so thanks to the advice of our dear sister Maria Dautruche, we have created an Amazon Wish List of some of the supplies she needs to make art kits for children in different communities.
We will keep updating the list as we receive more requests from sites. Consider purchasing some supplies from the list to support her charity and keep us I as we embark on this exciting journey to give back and spread a message that #ArtIsAStart, it concludes. Chelsea and her mom sent out kits to nearly 1,000 children in homeless shelters, foster care homes, women's shelters, and schools impacted by gun violence in just the first five months. Chelsea also used to travel with her mom across the country to meet the kids in-person and at times, give them some of her favorite drawing tips.
However, now that schools are closed due to the pandemic and social distancing measures to be taken, Chelsea is unable to physically interact with the kids as much as before. Therefore, Chelsea's Charity has adapted to the need of the hour and has been mailing the kits to kids instead. The family has sent out over 1,500 kits to schools, shelters, and foster homes in 12 states across the US since March. "I feel good inside knowing how happy they are when they get their art kits," said Chelsea. "I have definitely grown as a person because of this. Now my dream is to meet every kid in the entire world and give them art. Who knows, maybe if we do that and then our kids do that, we'll have world peace!"
Art as a form of therapy is something Chelsea swears by as it's what helped her the most when her swim instructor—who she was quite close to—was killed from gun violence in the middle of their swim season. Now, she wants to make art accessible to all kids who've experienced trauma so that they too can cope with their feelings. "Art therapy is being prescribed a lot more to support the mental health of young kids, especially those with social and emotional deficiencies," said Phaire. "Now with Covid-19, a lot of kids in shelters and also children in foster homes might not have access to art supplies they usually find in school. It's also mental health awareness month, so that's definitely motivating us to ramp it up send even more kits."