To bring enrichment into YouthQuest, the staff hires outside vendors to teach classes and clubs during the hours the program runs after day school. One of the businesses that teaches students how to connect their emotions to art is Unique Creations – a local business owned by Nikki Case.
“We love having Unique Creations teaching our YouthQuest students,” says Willie Buford, associate program director for YouthQuest, a program of Flint & Genesee Education & Talent. “Our program focuses on social and emotional learning and through creating art, Nikki connects with the students in our program on an emotional level and helps them work through their feelings.”
Out of a tough time in her life, Case built her business Unique Creations as a way to have a creative outlet to help her heal.
“I knew I had to work with children,” says Case. “I want to teach them the value of art before they get lost and become an adult too quickly.”
As a YouthQuest vendor, Case creates a judgement-free zone for students as it relates to arts. She develops lesson plans, however if a student strays instead of reprimanding the students she helps them learn the natural consequences.
“If people wander off, they are bummed at the end because they don’t have the creation everyone else made,” says Case. “I tell them, if they follow the lesson plan, they’ll be able to create something with us then I send them home with supplies to create it at home.”
Some of the art students have created with Case include jewelry, crowns, bracelets, keychains, 3D coloring pages and intricate paintings. The last of which she also instructed a group of parents through a program put on by the Crim Fitness Foundation.
“The parents learned the same things that the kids did previously,” says Case. “The kids coached their parents on how to do it and it was great to see them being confident in themselves.”
To Case, working with YouthQuest students has been a blessing because she gets to see students find that confidence in themselves every time she works with them.
“Kids are coming and telling me what they can’t do all the time,” says Case. “By the time the lesson is done they are proud of themselves, and they no longer use the word ‘can’t.’”
To learn more about Unique Creations, visit UniqueCreation4.GoDaddySite.com.
YouthQuest is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.