The young people in our community have an important voice that needs to be heard. They see the good around them, while they are also acutely aware that some things should be changed. Children of all ages know a neighborhood should be a place of security and safety and beauty.
The ultimate goal of the Draw it Out -Wish Flag project is to create art events for young people in Stockton where they can use art to express the impact of gun violence on them, their families, and their neighbors. Violence, especially the volatile issue of guns, is not always an easy subject to broach, but the Draw it Out -Wish Flag project starts the conversation.
The Wish Flags are an articulate expression of a child’s vision of a better place. The process of creating the flags can open up a dialog between the children and their parents, making parents more aware of their children’s concerns.
“We wanted to effect some kind of change,” said Julia Schardt, who spent 15 of her 24 years as a teacher at Cleveland and lost one of her second-graders, Oeun Lim, in the January 1989 shooting at the school. “For quite a while, I’ve been interested in how art can express community thought”.
“Cleveland School Remembers has spent a lot of time looking at what’s going on in our community with gun violence. Other communities have created some kind of an art expression. It seemed to be something as former teachers, we could champion locally”.
We’ve found the Stockton youth aren’t afraid to speak up and talk about their concerns. The Wish Flag project allows them to communicate what their concerns are. The process is creative and transfers what’s concerning the young person into something tangible in the wish flags.
Cleveland School Remembers and its partner organization, Draw it Out, have reached out to local agencies to join the effort and have received responses from Stockton Unified School District, the YMCA, Jagged Lines of Imagination, the Mexican Heritage Center and the Weston Ranch Community Association. To date, the group has set up the flag-making activities at Healthy Kids Day, Earth Day and the Asparagus Festival and other local events.
View the 2015 Art Against Violence exhibit slide show: