Written by Maggie Moore, AU Community and Civic Engagement Club President.
If you go down Opelika Road, and take a left onto Commerce Drive you’ll be taken to Sparkman Housing. Often forgotten, Sparkman is small but it is full of life with the people living there. In building 332 on a Monday afternoon at about four o’clock, you’ll find the art project titled, “Be You,” underway. The “Be You” program is a photography/art and writing project designed by Mary Afton Day; it was her capstone project this previous Fall as a product of almost two years of developing it with different housing complexes and the Lee County Youth Development Center. The idea behind “Be You” is that children from ages 5-18 can find ways to artistically express themselves and see the uniqueness of who they are over the course of seven weeks; ultimately through photography and writing the kids participating in the program will feel empowered to be themselves and dream big.
The program at Sparkman is a continuation of Day’s work. Over the past four weeks, the kids and volunteers have drawn a name plate to show who they are, their dream selves (one girl aspires to be a puppy when she grows up, and who could argue with that?), discussed community with a tree made of their handprints, and are in the process of making paper mache masks. While it is a continuation of Day’s work, there are slight differences in the activities, but the goal is still the same: empower children to recognize their potential as an individual and bring them together as a community through the arts.