Gabriel Hart wasn’t made for confined spaces.
“I’m just losing my mind because I can’t talk with my friends,” said the National City 9-year-old.
His grandmother stood behind him with an exhausted look on her face.
“This is… yeah. I want to go back to work,” Mica Velez said while gesturing towards Gabriel.
Gabriel’s National City family, which includes mom and little brother, is one of the thousands in San Diego County confined at home because of the Coronavirus.
“Something for them to do would be great,” said Gabriel’s mom Malena Minix.
That’s where Arts for Learning San Diego comes in.
“We are creating some packets of art supplies for children,” said Adrienne Valencia as she cut colored construction paper into smaller sheets. “We wanted to make sure that they got into the hands of children who would use them.”
Valencia is the non-profit’s interim Executive Director. She said their organization has a closet full of art supplies that aren’t being used. The art instructors usually teach elementary students all over San Diego County.
“Everything from National School District to the Juvenile Court and Community Schools,” said Keri Jhaveri, the organization’s Professional Learning and Arts Intervention Program Manager.
However, the coronavirus has shut down their instruction along with other schools and businesses.
“I feel like this is a really scary time right now,” said Jhaveri. “I’ve always found that making art helps center me, helps balance me.”
“They need something really positive to focus on,” added Valencia. “Deal with their feelings of anxiety and confusion and uncertainty that I think we’re all feeling.”
“We’re also thinking of this as a way to support our families, to support parents during this time,” she added.
“I think it’s a great idea because some people can’t go to buy coloring books, crayons, markers, nothing!” exclaimed Velez while standing behind a bouncing Gabriel.
“This feels good,” concluded Jhaveri. “This feels like, if I can just brighten somebody’s day a little bit, this is worth it.”
Arts for Learning San Diego, which operates predominantly through donations, said it hopes to donate the art bags to students like Gabriel in the National School District by next week.