Call For Volunteers: Garden of Fire Festival, August 14

Click here to sign up! Volunteers like you make extended arts education possible in Corning!>>

The Garden of Fire festival is a culminating celebration of youth learning through artwork, performance, and music. It provides a place and time to joyously celebrate the earth, wind and sky in unison with caregivers, teachers, artists, and community members. The festival also provides opportunities for social interaction; a time when youth are encouraged to interact with their peers outside of a learning environment. The festival is a proven “stage” where non-participating/hesitant youth who desire a place to showcase their learning can demonstrate self-confidence alongside their peers. The program provides the participating youth opportunities to expand their horizons by meeting in different locations and meeting people from other communities.

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Volunteers are needed to help make the Garden of Fire Festival a success! The festival will take place on Friday, August 14, 2015, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the new CareFirst facility in Painted Post, NY. Volunteers may sign-up for the full day or for various shifts: choose from a variety of . We appreciate the passion and knowledge that a willing volunteer force provides. All volunteers whose shift runs through lunchtime are welcome to partake in the food and beverages offered. The Festival serves approximately 145 youth, who will be accompanied by 30-40 volunteers, 20 staff members from the partnering organizations, along with community dignitaries and members of various boards.

Click here to sign up! Volunteers like you make extended arts education possible in Corning!>>

Mistakes Become Discoveries!

Imagine a place where your child can create a piece of art without the pressure of a grade, the stress of a deadline, the absence of a requirement, with and endless supply of tools for his or her creation.

Imagine a place where he or she can speak openly about personal emotions and loss. This is a place where people listen free of judgment. It is somewhere that, after hearing how you drew the birds in the sky and they did not come out how you wanted, your neighbor throws her paintbrush in the air and shouts: Mistakes become discoveries!

We’ve found our place. This is why we love the Garden of Fire.

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The Corning Youth Center went to The Rockwell Museum on Tuesday. A discussion and meditation led by CareFirst’s Chelsea Ambrose prompted a powerful conversation about grief and loss experienced in the lives of our youth. A safe space was created for youth of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences to connect through their hardships and no longer feel alone, but to feel united and empowered by those sitting beside them. We walked through The Rockwell and discussed pieces of art through their expression and meaning and how each child can express themselves when they sit down to create art.

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This week’s project was to create and design a clay tile. A ten year old described her clay tile. “The clouds are eyes and the raindrops are tears.” She told me the tree represents growth and how she will never stop growing.

This was a beautiful project. The Garden of Fire has given our youth an outlet of expression where words do not suffice.

Maybe it seems silly that, with a project focused on a time of overwhelming emotion or change in life, an eight year old raises her hand to ask, “How do you draw a Minion?” But, if you ask her why the Minion is relevant to her project, she will tell you that last week she went to the movies with her best friend and she finally felt “really happy.”

This is why we love the Garden of Fire.

Caitlin McConville
Laura Richardson Houghton Corning Youth Center

Making Animal Friends with the Garden of Fire

Our summer program is up and running!  We have planned many activities with community partners for our kids, one being The Garden of Fire. Having had their first session with the Rockwell Museum and Tanglewood Nature Center, the children are excited to continue the journey and explore all that the Garden of Fire offers.

Week One began with the Garden of Fire story, read by Gigi Alvare, The Rockwell’s Director of Education. Students were assigned roles in the story and used animal puppets to say their lines.

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Parents were invited to participate in the day’s program.

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Students met various garden animals with Ian of Tangle Wood Nature Center & Museum. They drew pictures of the animals in their Garden of Fire journals and wrote a bit about what they learned.

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I sat down and had a conversation with one of our kids, Kennedy, asking her what she thought of the program so far. Here is what Kennedy had to say in regards to the Garden of Fire;

I thought the story was really cool and I got to hold the deer puppet.  They helped me to understand what a metaphor is because they explained that it was a garden looked like it was on fire, when it actually was not.  All of the animals from Tanglewood were super cool.  They and the story helped me to understand the cycle of a garden and how it all works. I am really excited about what is to come from all of the artists and the different things we get to make.  I cannot wait for the festival and think that it will be really, really fun.

To see the excitement from the kids who are just starting to be involved with the Garden of Fire,  and the kids who have been involved in years past, shows that learning over the summer can be fun.  We look forward to hearing from the kids each week on what they learned and what they look forward to with the coming sessions.  The excitement for the festival is contagious and we look forward to being part of such an awesome project and day.

Mary Ellen Monahan
Missi Allison
The Salvation Army Summer Program Directors

A Garden Growing In Hornell

At the Hornell Area Concern for Youth, creating a garden has been a fun, educational, and nutritional piece of our summer program for the last six years.

We like to experiment with a variety of vegetables in our raised beds, and it’s been a learning experience. We have always grown tomatoes; the year that the region experienced wide-spread tomato blight, we used it as an opportunity to teach our students why and how blights can occur.

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Last year, with the start of the Garden of Fire program, our gardening projects reached new heights. Ian, from Tanglewood Nature Center, came to us early on to get us started for growing season in a whole new way. He taught the students about our particular type of soil, and how geological changes like glaciers can affect the richness and nutrient content of soil in a given region.

He taught us so many things we hadn’t considered in the past, including preserving our vegetables to eat all-year-round. We learned to can our vegetables last year, turning cucumbers into delicious pickles, and our beautiful tomatoes into spaghetti sauce. Those were treats that we have enjoyed all winter.

Now it is time to start anew for this year. We have been so busy with our spring programming, that admittedly we got behind the growing schedule. Amazingly – count our lucky stars – Paul Shephard Jr., our Special Projects Coordinator, received a call from a group looking for volunteer opportunities.

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The camp counselors, all twelve of them from Camp Stella Maris came with gardening tools in hand to help us take control of the garden again. They took on the enormous task of weeding, adding organic fertilizers, and disposing of the grass. Then, with the aid of our youth center participants, the group planted a beautiful garden.

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We are now prepared for another eventful summer of learning about the garden and how it can be a rewarding hobby. It really feels like the first days of summer when we look at the garden and it is weeded and planted. Now to keep it that way!

In a few weeks we will be building new garden beds for the Wimodaughsian Free Library in Canisteo.

Happy planting to all of the other gardeners out there!