ARTreach is a John Brown Univerity CAUSE ministry founded in spring 2015 by Jana Strom, alumna since 2016. In ARTreach, we go to Colcord, Oklahoma each Monday evening for crafts with the kids. Northwest Arkansas is one of the wealthiest areas of Arkansas, but Colcord, just across the border, is one of the poorest of Oklahoma. Strom saw a need when she found the kids did not have an art program. She felt it was important for them to learn about art, so she started ARTreach to build relationships with them through simple art projects.
I have been in ARTreach for almost three years. I love being able to see the kids each week and they brighten my days. I was familiar with Colcord before JBU. Through the leadership development program at New Life Ranch, I fell in love with the Colcord community and knew I wanted to keep serving the kids. The kids in Colcord are so sweet and loving, and they just need to be loved. Many of the kids I knew through New Life have grown up or moved out of Colcord, but one girl I have known nearly four years still comes to ARTreach. It is so great to continue building that relationship and be a consistent factor in her life.
I am an elementary education major, so I will work with kids for the rest of my life, but ARTreach is a great fit for any major! Right now, we need JBU students to come consistently because the number of kids continue to grow. ARTreach began with about five, and now we have about 20-25 each week. We go to their houses to pick them up and bring them to First Baptist Church in Colcord where we have a game, craft, snack, and short devotion. We leave at 5:40 p.m. each Monday from the Walker loading docks and return to campus around 8:30 p.m. Anyone who comes to ARTreach is welcome to lead an activity, but we really need people to come be with the kids.
In past years, we have randomly chose each week’s crafts, but this year we have focused on the seven elements of art, and had a craft last fall that went with each one. This semester, we are focusing on art history. We have learned about art in the stone age, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Rome and China.
We all know how important it is for us as Christians to look outside ourselves and serve others. We also know how important relationships and positive role models for children. ARTreach is a great opportunity for JBU students to serve a nearby community and make a positive influence on the children.
For more information, contact Emily Runnels at RunnelsE@jbu.edu or Megan Robinson at RobinsonMM@jbu.edu. Make a difference for the kids of Colcord!