Bridging the Gap Program Making a Difference

February 15 was the launch for Bridging the Gap: Meeting Where You Are, a five-month mentoring and interactive project between 7th and 8th graders at Champion Middle School and senior residents of Poindexter Village and the Near East Side community. The title Bridging the Gap represents the intent to redevelop stronger relationship between youth and seniors.  

Every Thursday, a group of 14 students and adults meet after school in the art classroom at Champion Middle Schools to share a snack, talk and engage in an activity related to the arts.  The students eagerly participate in conversation sharing what’s on their minds and the adults talk about their experiences and what they have learned over the years living and working on the Near East Side.  The visual art activities are facilitated by master teaching artists Shelbi Harris-Roseboro (Shel10 LLC) and Richard Duarte Brown (Transit Arts) with assistance from Malik Carrington (Transit Arts apprentice).

When you walk into the room there is always excitement as the students and mentors interact with the artists and explore and express their ideas.  Participants are often surprised and delighted to learn more about each other as well as gain insight about the history of the King-Lincoln neighborhood and current events that are impacting the neighborhood.  

The group has created clay pots, watercolor paintings and they are working on creating a canvas mural that reflects the expressions of the students and adults.  As one student described it, “we’re recognizing and accepting our differences.”

The Bridging the Gap project was developed as one of the capstone projects for graduates of the Near East Side Neighborhood Leadership Academy. The NES NLA group members include: Belinda Baker, Tammara Bealer, Lauren Coleman, Monica Doss, Calvin Hairston and Tonya Lawson-Howard.

– Contributed by: Tonya Lawson-Howard