(JOPLIN, MO.) In 2009, Meg Bourne had an inspiration.
She was working in a classroom for students with behavioral disorders at a local school, where she met one specific little boy.
“He wasn’t being fed at home, and he was falling really far behind in school,” Bourne said.
She explained, “where he couldn’t write, he would really strive in water colors.” She said, “I just kept working with with him – using my art supplies from home.”
She says at the point where she ran out of art supplies and asked herself how to sustain the project, ‘Art Feeds’ began.
“It went from us fulfilling a need for a specific child, to fulfilling a need for the broader community.”
She says the program is important for helping kids reach their potential.
“This theory we have,” says the founder of Art Feeds, “is if you like soccer, you have access to the field, the equipment, team, jersey, coach. But for kids that are interested in art, there’s nothing like that.”
Bourne points to low income children. “They can’t afford lessons or supplies – it may be something they love, and they can’t work on it.”
And that’s where the $250 thousand dollar grant comes in to play.
Bourne wants to create a Community Art Center, featuring an after school program that could accommodate dozens of local children.
Bourne caught on to the Pepsi Refresh Project by accident.
Each month, Pepsi is giving away a hefty amount of cash to individual projects across the country based on votes acquired online.
“The kids, a lot from Joplin High School, want to help but they don’t have money. So they have events for us and they help us in a big way. This online thing is something they can latch onto,” Bourne says. “It’s free. Impact with no money.”
She says, “If we have anything right now, we have support from kids who are on the internet all the time voting for us.”
She said in the community, leaders from the Joplin Chamber of Commerce have been helpful in raising awareness of the online voting, as well as local artists and local bands.
Bourne says if they do not receive the Pepsi funding, “we’re just going to get funding somewhere else.” “We’re going to reach out to local corporations and see if they would like to help us.”
To vote for Art Feeds, visit their page on the Pepsi Refresh Project’s website. Bourne says people can vote three times a day – once with the Facebook application, once with a Pepsi account, and once with a text message.
The group is currently sitting at 17th place. The top two ideas receive funding. Voting ends August 31.
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