In this world of social distancing and increasing guidelines and restrictions on our regular way of life, technology has repeatedly become the solution to overcome barriers of social distancing. In an effort to spread love and compassion to the elderly during this time, Portsmouth Christian Academy Art Teacher Susie Stevens and her elementary art classes have used technology to bring encouragement to the residents of six local assisted living and nursing homes in Dover (Bellamy Fields, Maple Suites, Residence at Silver Springs) and in Rochester (Rochester Manor and Desiree’s Place).
This week, kindergarten through fifth grade art classes at Portsmouth Christian Academy created a digital art gallery of more than 100 pieces of art to share with local assisted living homes. Prompted by a realization that the elderly in assisted living homes were facing many restrictions and guidelines meant to keep them safe and healthy during the pandemic, and that those restrictions were making many feel confined and lonely, Susie Stevens gave her students an open-ended assignment – to create encouraging artwork for the elderly in the community.
Stevens says the students enthusiastically rose to this challenge, “Being able to minister to people while being confined to their homes has meant a lot to many of our students. There has been such a beautiful outpouring of colorful, cheerful art. The kids genuinely care about the elderly population as you can see from some of their messages. I am very touched by their love and efforts.”
Though Stevens’ original intent was to deliver packages of artwork to each assisted living facility, guidelines to keep residents save continued to expand until facilities were no longer accepting any hard-copy deliveries from outside. Instead, Stevens asked her students to submit artwork online, which she then collected into a digital art gallery that can be projected for residents to enjoy.
Portsmouth Christian Academy temporarily shifted to distance learning on March 17, and has continued instruction in all subject areas for students. In visual art classes, Susie Stevens has used Microsoft Teams to post assignments, encouraging students to share their artwork in a feed for the rest of the class to see and share comments. Susie says this method has opened the door for children to share encouraging feedback.
In addition to continuing education, PCA’s commitment to shift learning online has made it possible for classes like Susie’s to continue working together to serve the community.
“Our huge focus this year has been Compassionate Community. This project has provided a wide-open door for our school to creatively and lovingly reach into the confined, isolated places where vulnerable people live during these fearful days. I am amazed, grateful and humbled to be a part of such a wonderful school where there is deep concern for others, and this concern is followed by love in action.”
To view student artwork, visit this link.
To learn more about Portsmouth Christian Academy’s approach to education and shift to distance learning, visit PCAschool.org/covid-19.