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Penticton community service groups pass out hundreds of art packs for families, seniors

Pandemic art packs a hit

Penticton community groups have banded together during COVID-19 to find ways to bring creativity to families teens and seniors who may be feeling isolated. 

The Penticton and District Community Arts Council came up with the idea for pandemic art supply packs after listening to feedback from locals.

"Some of the different challenges that our local community members were facing, especially families with young children, youth and seniors, and also people with lack of access to technology, and families struggling with having children at home, seniors in isolation, that kind of thing," said arts council administrator Bethany Handfield.

"It got us thinking, as an arts council, what could we do to support members of our community during this time?"

She started reaching out to other community groups to see what they had been hearing, and discovered the Penticton Foundry had also had an idea to create art packs for youth. 

"So we thought, let's just collaborate and make it a nice community project!" 

The Foundry took on 90 pack for teens, OneSky helped out by doing ordering for the supplies as well as an anonymous local business in town that helped get supplies ordered at a good deal, with everyone collaborating to get the best prices to help the most people. 

"For the Arts Council, we ended up doing about 270 packs," Handfield said, which went out to both families and seniors through a handful of different local organizations like SOWINS, Compass House, Discovery House, Starfish Pack and many more. 

Combined with the Foundry's 90 packs for teens, 360 packs were handed out, which Handfield calls "amazing."

She said one of the best parts is a groundwork laid for future collaboration between community service groups. 

"I think with the shared uncertainty, nobody knows what's going to happen in the future, now we at least know we are more familiar with each other, we've got the network hooked up," Handfield said. "So we know if other needs come up we can act a little bit faster next time and we're just keeping those lines of communication open ... looking at lots of future partnerships."

The Arts Council put together two different types of packs, one for children and families and one for seniors or older youth. 

The kids pack includes local art in the Dream now Visit Later colouring book. There is also an SS Sicamous activity book designed by artist Em Ludington 10 years ago when she was a high school student in Penticton, who is now working with Emily Carr University in Vancouver. 

"She was like 'I can't believe you guys have that, can I re-do this?'" Handfield said with a laugh. "So she actually re-did four new activity pages, so it was neat too have a Penticton alumnus help out from afar."

Crayons, sidewalk chalk, glue stick, doodle pad, and a mixed bag of things like pompoms and pipe cleaners and googly eyes are also included. 

The packs for seniors or older users have doodle pads, watercolour marker pads and watercolour pencil crayons, pastels and more. 

Handfield isn't sure whether this exact program will be repeated, but said the spirit of collaboration between agencies is here to stay. 

"I think that especially with the limited resources that are probably going to be happening just due to the financial strain on our various levels of government and our communities, I think that partnership is 100 per cent going to be the way that we're going to have to go."



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