WASHINGTON DEPOT— In 2020, ASAP!, a social organization serving nearly 10,000 students throughout Connecticut each year, carried forth its in-school programming, created COVID-safe in-person opportunities, and developed virtual workshops in the face of quarantine. Their 2020 theme ‘Connection’ was born out across a variety of writing, movement and visual art programs facilitated by the program development of ASAP! teaching artists.

ASAP!’s Writing Program, led by teaching artist Amy Yarbrough, will guide Waterbury’s Children’s Community School students through the creative exploration of language while providing freedom within structure: Flexibility is encouraged and few rules apply. This virtual program will allow students the freedom to be successful and find a connection with their world, with each other and with language of the written, spoken and aural word over its bi-weekly October-February arc.

Region 14 Pre-k will span two months in December and January. Forty-two teachers and students, led by Jessie Sector and Emily Kent of Pilobolus Dance Theatre, will explore the movement of their full bodies from their heads to their toes. Playful games will engage sensory and motor skills, inspire creativity, and allow self expression.

A Day on the Farm and Winter Critter were two of ASAP!’s successful outdoor, in-person programs which invited participants to connect with nature while remaining distanced from each other. For A Day on The Farm in late October, groups of 10 students masked up for a hiking tour of Waldingfield Farm, sampled organic produce, and painted Dia De Los Muertos-inspired pumpkins with Alyssa Robb and Patrick Horan. Winter Critter, a weekend workshop in December, brought together two groups of pre-k to 5th graders at Macricostas Preserve, a section of Steep Rock Association in New Preston. Attendees transformed themselves into winter critters to discover other animals living nearby and learn about how animals survive in the cold winter months, increasing their appreciation and understanding of nature. Afterward, they created bird seed ornaments and owl ornaments from nature objects to take home.

Over the autumn months, students from five Waterbury schools generated artwork about gratitude and collaborated on the Together We Connect: Gratitude mural at Children’s Community School. Led by teaching artist Jenna Robb, students explored people, places and things for which they are thankful and created artwork for their objects of gratitude. The resulting mural, which interlocks each participants’ painting in a colorful whole, serves to connect students with each other as well as their surrounding community. Sharing their gratitude in a public space helps them realize their importance as an individual, and how collaboration can exponentially grow one’s impact.

The ASAP! Writing Program and Gratitude Mural are funded in part by a grant from Connecticut Community Foundation.

To learn more about ASAP!, 6 Bee Brook Road, Washington Depot, visitasapct.org.

Connecticut Media Group