Art can be a great tool for building community. Sometimes it’s a local effort. Sometimes, it’s a global effort. For Prathysha Kothare, it just happens to be both! As a kindergartner, Prathysha cre- ated a three-dimensional, feathered flower. Her teach- ers and family were impressed and proud of her work, and it left a lasting impression on her. She explains that this led her to a love for art and a heart for happiness. Prathysha has always enjoyed exploring the arts, and has a strong affinity for the visual arts, as she says, “It expresses what words cannot say.”
She first heard about The Baum School of Art while taking classes at the Community Music School. Inter- ested in exploring the joy of creativity, she began at- tending The Baum School of Art’s summer camps. Dur- ing her summer camps, she studied drawing, painting, ceramics, and jewelry-making. She was not the only person that loved the creative, quirky projects that she made at camp—her family members living in both Brazil and India were always asking her to send pieces of her art. Although they were far apart geographically, art brought them closer together. Prathysha first expe- rienced global connectivity right in her own family.
Prathysha, without hesitation, has enthusiastically jumped right in when it comes to creative proj- ects, and her family’s encourage- ment might have something to do with her infectiously positive attitude. Her enthusiasm and creativity may have guided her to her most recent adventure. She says, “My mom always told me, ‘you can never grow if you don’t try new things’.” Prathysha went on to explain how much she has grown in the past year after trying something completely new to her: founding the first extending chapter of the non-profit American Friends of Kenya, the AFK LV: Global Connectivity Project.
Although not required, many sophomore students at Parkland High School form different clubs, groups, or fundraisers internally to give back to the community. Prathysha and her friends wanted to extend their efforts even further out into the community. Instead of asking what, they began asking how. How can we make a difference? How can we promote global con- nectivity? How can we help youth? After doing some re- search, they came across AFK and started asking these questions—the answers and a plan began to flow.
Prathysha contacted a teacher in Kenya who is part of AFK. She reported that they were in dire need of school and art supplies, with an emphasis on the art supplies. Prathysha began with setting up art and supply drives at Ironton Elementary, but then took her efforts a step further by connecting the youth in both countries. She facilitated video calls between two US middle school classes and two Kenyan middle school classes. She set up activities with the students, such as a “day in the life of a 5th grader” project, where both US and Kenyan 5th graders gave a run-down of their typical day. Students are also going to do art projects over their next video session, learning more about each other’s culture.
This project has allowed for the students to gain a greater perspective and understanding of cultural differences. “Global challenges can differ. We have the resources here to help Kenyan students. We need to give the help.” She continues, “It helped us to learn that sometimes we tend to take everyday things, such as our school systems, for granted.” Prathysha plans to keep up with this project through high school and after graduation. She has high hopes of continuing to expand the project, and even wants to visit some of the schools in Kenya before she begins her college journey.
Prathysha contacted Shannon Fugate, Executive Director of The Baum School of Art, to tell her about her project. Shannon and the rest of the Baum School team were impressed and inspired by Prathysha’s work, and wanted to support the project and include our art students in the efforts.
We have set up an art and school supply donation drive in the lobby of The Baum School of Art. Items needed include, but aren’t limited to: pastels, crayons, paints, colored pencils, modeling clay and model magic, paintbrushes, pencils, notebooks, backpacks and calculators. Please help in any way you can! The drive will continue through April 2019. Follow us on social media for updates on the project.