One company's broken jewelry is another school's treasured art materials. Just ask charming charlie and the more than 70 schools involved in the SPARK "Play in the Park" art fundraising initiative. The program is on a mission to raise funds for SPARK, an organization that develops public school grounds into neighborhood parks.
Art is an integral part of the SPARK program, with more than 85 of the 200 plus SPARK Parks incorporating a public art component, so when charming charlie approached SPARK in November 2010 to recycle damaged materials into student art work, SPARK's Kathleen Ownby knew it was a something special.
"I remember being in the office when I got a call from charming charlie about a project using damaged materials. I knew what charming charlie meant and I knew it meant bling and glitz. I just knew kids would be so excited about getting their hands in a box of jewelry and earrings and doing something with it," Ownby says.
The primary goal of the "Play in the Park" campaign is raising money for the SPARK program, but throughout the process, other benefits became apparent.
After loading up three trucks of jewelry and accessories, charming charlie delivered them to schools across the Houston area with the goal of raising $30,000 in honor of the 30th anniversary of the SPARK program in 2013.
Students would create collage boards with the "Play in the Park" theme and the creations would be featured in the 2013 SPARK Art Calendar, travel to neighborhood libraries, school district offices and City Hall, as well as be available for purchase.
The primary goal of the "Play in the Park" campaign is raising money for the SPARK program, but throughout the process, other benefits became apparent. Stephanie Walton, art specialist at Northbrook Middle School, works with learning disability students and immediately saw a spark of interest.
"My life skills and special needs kids are not any different from any other kids and we knew we were on to something when we opened that box and found something they were interested in that was different from what we normally use," Walton says.
All of the children's reactions were ones of wonder and an instant creativity surge. Students for whom English wasn't their first language saw their vocabulary flourish, building sentences with adjectives describing shape, color and texture. The activity also stressed the importance of teamwork and listening to each other's creative vision.
The students began the process by sketching out ideas and then collaboratively adding jewelry, and as one student says, before they knew it, the art project "got amazing."
For the children with learning disabilities, the excitement was palpable especially with non-verbal students.
"The kids have these A-ha moments, you see the light bulb go off and you can see it in their eyes that they get it," Walton says.
You can help provide those light bulb moments and so much more by donating to the SPARK School Park Project. Click here for more information.
To learn more, take the time to watch the short film above, which charming charlie made with Swagger Films.