Like all of Mountain T.O.P.’s programs, Kaleidoscope (KAL) started as a response to a need in Grundy County, TN. Unfortunately like most schools, the arts are not supported as well as they should be in the schools. Grundy County is fortunate to share an art and a music teacher among its 6 primary schools. For children with special needs on the mountain, an experience in the visual and performing arts is made available through Kaleidoscope camp. Adults come to lead and assist in work shops and act as caregivers to the children. Through workshops such as music and movement, dance, painting, sculpture, and 3-D art, these special kids have their horizons broadened, and are given the chance to nurture an interest in the arts while in the company of caring adults from all over the country.

The beneficial effects of art for children are numerous and far outweigh the cost of the programs themselves. It has been said that “school communities which infuse their curricula and orientations to teaching and learning around the arts have experienced broad-reaching outcomes.”1 Children who are classified economically disadvantaged (over 2/3rds of all Grundy county students) are particularly sensitive to these effects, which are not limited to but include: increases in reading comprehension skills, achievement motivation, school attendance, and a decrease in discipline referrals.

We are always in need of professional artists to lead KAL workshops and caregivers to assist the children in their experience. A love of children is all that is needed to be a part of KAL!

1. From the book Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Social and Academic Development by James S. Catterall