Kelloggsville Students Tackle Homelessness Through Art

DATE May 23, 2013LEAVE A COMMENT

By Sheila McGrath | Advance Newspapers on May 10, 2013 at 3:25 PM, updated May 14, 2013 at 11:05 AM

A dozen 6-foot-tall houses have sprung up outside Kelloggsville High School, reminding all who see them that some people have no place to call home.

The structures were built and painted as part of “House is a Home,” a service-learning project coordinated through the Kent Intermediate School District. Kelloggsville High School’s art students have been involved in the project all year.

Art teacher Donna Casmere said House is a Home was designed to connect students with a problem facing the community, tying the issue together with some creative projects. All the art students in the high school worked on some aspect of the service-learning project, creating not only the 6-foot-tall houses but 150 small ones, along with sculptures, textile projects, pillows, and dolls.

In April, their artwork went on display in the Padnos Gallery at Grand Valley State University, and it can be viewed online at houseisahome.weebly.com.

The artwork is being sold to help homeless families. Small, flat houses sell for $20, while the 6-foot houses sell for $160. Proceeds benefit Kids Sense, a program run through the Kelloggsville district to help its families.

Casmere said in researching the issue of homelessness, her students discovered that the average age of a homeless person in the area is 9 years old. As they got more involved in the research, she said, they went from wanting to raise awareness about homelessness to wanting to do anything they could to fix it.

12717348-large“They wanted to do more and more – all that we could,” she said.

“The wonderful thing about the project was that as the students became more and more aware, they became more and more insistent on putting out the message that there was a need,” she said.

The study of homelessness was incorporated into other aspects of the students’ study as well, Casmere said. The school had speakers come in to talk about homelessness, and English teacher Susan Falk did a writing unit on what makes a house a home.

Students wrote about the importance of families being able to stick together, and that it doesn’t really matter what the house is like, it’s the love found within it that counts. Some of the students wrote about their own experiences with homelessness, Casmere said.

“It just really touches your heart,” she said.

The houses were placed outside Kelloggsville High School in an outreach effort to the community, and Casmere is hoping to raise more funds as businesses or individuals decide to buy them.

To reach Casmere about purchasing artwork, email dcasmere@kvilleps.org or call 532-1570.

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