Anyone who’s seen the movie “Mary Poppins,” no doubt remembers the scene when Mary, accompanied by her two young charges, encounters Bert working on his chalk drawings in the park. After admiring the drawings, the four, thanks to Disney magic, jump inside a drawing and interact with animated characters while singing and dancing all the way. The scene ends when rain begins to fall and the characters return to reality.
The Brunswick Chapter of The Links Inc., an international service organization for women of color, isn’t promising that kind of wizardry at Saturday’s Chalk Arts Festival, but the Earth Day-themed event will give children the opportunity to make some magic of their own, and learn a few lessons along the way.
The free event, “Celebrate Earth, Celebrate Our Coast!” will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Mary Ross Waterfront Park in Brunswick.
According to organizers, youth from 4-21 can compete for prizes in the chalk arts contest, build a Lego coastal city and participate in the coloring station with assorted drawings representing coastal sea animals and plants. Other festival activities will include an exhibit about famous inventions and the Build-It Workshop from The Home Depot.
Artists Serena Hall and Gene Threats will also display their artwork and interact with the young people in attendance.
Myrna Scott Amos, Links art chair and festival coordinator, said the event has a S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) inspired approach and all festival activities are interactive and help youth connect to real-world experiences.
“The Chalk Arts Festival is a unique, Arts In April program that links many friends throughout the Golden Isles community,” Amos, said. “The Links hope that the festival will broaden youths’ minds about how they may achieve success in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.
“The Links Inc. believes that every child should be nurtured in a caring culture of trust and community, while challenging them to reach their highest potential.”
Amos explained that children typically have limited opportunities nowadays to gain exposure to the arts.
“The S.T.E.A.M. learning approach is gaining momentum because research shows that students consistently engaged in the arts are twice more likely to graduate high school and college than their peers with little arts experiences,” Amos said. “In fact, when an artist paints, they are solving a problem; expressing creative thoughts with colors, technique and images. This is basically the same way a scientist or an engineer conducts their experiments.”
She added that there will be youth who participate in the festival who will come prepared with an artistic plan for their 15-foot by 9-foot concrete palette on the Brunswick waterfront.
The festival is an extension of, and underscores, the Brunswick Chapter of The Links’ commitment to serve youth and families so they may learn, discover the arts and achieve to the best of their abilities.
“The arts play an important role in the lives of many individuals, such as Mae Jemison, (a) former astronaut,” Amos said. “In fact, one of the first STEM programs was the 1962 NASA Arts Program that fostered the progressive S.T.E.A.M. approach to learning for youth.”
Amos added that students who are not motivated by math, science or technology, will many times advance farther and with more interest after a creative arts piece gets them more engaged with learning, which becomes the spark they need to excel academically.
“The Links Inc. looks forward to provided this ‘spark’ at the Chalk Arts Festival,” she said.
In addition to the visual arts piece, entertainment will include performances by members of the Golden Isles Youth Orchestra, African drum demonstrations and an appearance by “Wolfie” from Wolfson Children’s at Southeast Georgia Health System. Attendees may also attend a yoga demonstration, stop at the health education station under the “Big Tent” and take a free train ride.
Storytelling is also a facet of the day’s activities. “American Beach” author and storyteller Marsha Dean Phelts will be on hand, and Dr. Shirley Wilson will tell about her journey in the medical field to encourage youth to excel in the sciences.
The Chalk Arts Festival is just one of many programs The Links sponsor throughout the year. Others include:
• Summer Arts Camp scholarship for Golden Isles Arts and Humanities camps.
• National Arts Poster Contest to promote healthy eating and lifestyles.
• Community Action Youth Leadership Initiative (CAYLI) — a program in which Links Services to Youth members meet bi-monthly with sixth–12th-grade students to provide leaderships skills, conduct college tours, and social skills.
• The LVIR (Linking Voices and Improving Reading) — a tutorial mentoring program for third-grade students in Camden County. The objective of LVIR is to provide learning support in phonics, vocabulary and other reading strategies to promote academic achievement.
• The LIFE (Links International Foreign Affairs and Business Empowerment for Youth) program has been conducted at Coastal College of Georgia to inform and encourage high school students from Glynn, McIntosh and Camden counties to pursue career possibilities in foreign affairs and international business.