Youth developing life skills through the arts - Part 1

Youth can develop important life skills through their participation in 4-H expressive arts projects.

Michigan 4-H provides opportunities for youth to develop life skills that can help prepare them for a successful future.  4-H Visual arts and crafts projects entail more than physically making a project. These projects are a great opportunity for youth to develop important life skills.

Expressive arts is one of the largest project areas in Michigan 4-H. This program group includes a variety of youth projects such as visual arts, performing arts, arts and crafts, and woodworking.  Specific activities youth can participate in are painting, drawing, sculpting, photography and video, dancing, acting, singing, and clowning among others.

The Iowa State Targeting Life Skills Model identifies categories of life skills divided between the four H’s from the 4-H Clover; head ( thinking, managing), heart ( caring, relating), hands  (giving, working) and health (living, being).  There are many specific life skills from those categories that can be developed through participation in the arts.  These can include experience in planning and organizing the art project, learning to solve problems as individuals progress towards completing their project and using their resources wisely.  Art projects can be a form of community service, such as making and donating items to a local, national or global cause.  Youth can also show leadership by helping and teaching others in their club.

According to Michigan State University Extension, arts and crafts projects provide a perfect opportunity to develop creativity and be innovative in the project design.  Projects can be sold and entrepreneurial skills can be developed.  These experiences can lead to youth participants feeling great about their accomplishments and help build self-esteem. 

Youth aged 12, as of January 1, 2013, and adults can participate in a 4-H Visual Arts and Crafts leader training October 12-13 at Kettunen Center , Michigan’s 4-H state leader training facility, located in Tustin, Mich.  This workshop will offer leaders an opportunity to learn ways they can encourage and support development of life skills through their arts projects.  Eighteen workshop sessions will be offered.  Full workshop and registration information will be available soon at the Michigan 4-H workshop schedule site.   More information about the 4-H Visual Arts and Crafts workshop will be provided in part two of this article.

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