by Christine Wolkin
As families with young children struggle to provide educational and entertaining content for their children at home during the current COVID-19 public health pandemic, one local educator/author is offering a new program to do just that.
Kim Soles, 56, of Mt. Airy, founder of Indigo Nature Arts, recently launched Heart + Spirit, a program for children primarily between the ages of six and 12 years old that offers daily activities and positive support and opens a way for kids to experience daily life and thoughts through drawings and activities.
“Heart + Spirit is a way for me to assist your child/children and help them to navigate this time and their thoughts and feelings in creative and thought provoking ways,” said Soles, who has spent the last two decades combining her love of nature with her educational background to create holistic programs for children.
While Soles first developed this program in 2003 when she owned and operated Mt. Airy Healing Arts Space (MAHAS), she says it’s been waiting for her to launch, and she feels now is the time. “We’ve now been presented with an enormous challenge and opportunity to remain at home,” said Soles. “The good news is we have more time to spend with our families and to do a lot of things we like to do.”
The 28-day course provides hands-on, media-free activities for children at home. Parents will receive an email and read it their children, which then explains the activity, supplies needed and the goal.
“We all look forward to the daily activity. It is a bit or normalcy, a reminder to breathe and a bit of routine in a time when lots feels out of our control. And time to focus on art,” said Stacy Taylor of Mt. Airy, whose 10-year-old daughter, Molly, is participating regularly in the program. Her siblings Gwinny, 7, and Imogene, 4, occasionally jump in.
“I liked the making art [activity] in nature because it was fun to go out in the rain and find fallen flower petals and create art from them. I also enjoyed drawing my favorite tree because it reminded me there are so many pretty things, even when some things feel hard,” Molly said.
Jackie Kent, a mother from Germantown, said she and her daughter love the nature art activities as well.
“The nature art is really fun and a great way to be outside and have things seem like normal! We made art using the celandine flowers that have popped up everywhere!” Kent said.
Kent participates alongside her daughter by doing her own work and then helping her daughter complete hers and reflect on it.
“The art prompts are very on-point and comforting. It helps us to feel connected with others who are all going through the same feelings during this unprecedented time,” she said.
“I think that, years from now, we will be able to look back at the work we completed with these prompts from Soles and remember what it was like for us.”
Soles, who worked as a fashion and accessories designer in New York City in the 1980s, began working part-time in an administrative position at the Wissahickon Environmental Center in Fairmount Park in 2006. She also helped develop nature programs for children ages 4 to 7.
“It’s lots of fun,” she said. “I don’t see myself as a teacher. I let the children experience nature.”
Children have inspired Soles in other ways as well. She’s written and illustrated a book for children, “Peace Came Over.” Soles, whose work has appeared in several literary journals, also published “Photographing Home, Nature Spirits Unveiled.”
“The more aware I am of nature beings’ energy, the more readily they show themselves,” she said of photographing the spirits. “Experience has shown me that what we consider the stuff of fairytales and folklore isn’t a separate realm, but one joined with ours. Children know that part of nature exists.”
While there is a cost for her current program, Soles offers it complimentary for 14 days to families who are out of work.
“We are all in this together, and together we will help one another,” she said. “My hope is for children to gain a calm perspective and develop balance in this shaky time.”
For more information on the program, or to register, visit www.indigonaturearts.com/indigo-wellness
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