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City’s summer youth art club ‘paints the town’

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The city is getting a colorful makeover this summer thanks to young artists who are using their painting skills to brighten the city through the Community ArtReach program.

The program for kids ages 10 and up meets from 9 a.m. to 11:30 every Tuesday and Thursday for eight weeks in the summer beginning July 1.

Friends Emma M. Ladouceur, 12, and Emily R. Streeter, 13, have been taking part of the program since it began last year. They said the art group has helped them to meet other kids who share their love of art.

“Last year I saw they were doing signups in the newspaper,” Emily said Tuesday. “We both really liked doing art and we decided to check it out. Now it is my favorite thing to do.”

“I look forward to it all week,” Emma said. “We get to hang out with friends, meet new people and make Ogdensburg more colorful.”

Over the next two weeks, the artists-in-training are transforming Kiwanis’s concession stand at Clifford M. Montroy Park on Jefferson Avenue into a Lego house.

“We’re painting Lego people on it, too,” Emma said. “We’re going to cover all the Kiwanis sports – we’ll have football player, a baseball player and a soccer player.”

There are about 10 children who participate in the program from inside and outside of Ogdensburg.

“It’s a group effort,” Emily said. “We all brainstorm to come up with different things to paint.”

Since the program began last year, students have painted garbage cans around the city, tie-dyed T-shirts and painted signs to advertise the Oswegatchie Delta Music Festival.

Zanaya Baker-Johnson, 13, said one of her favorite projects was painting Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” on a garbage can which now sits near the city’s ice rink.

“It’s cool because people can see your art work around town and it gets noticed a lot more,” Zanaya said.

For their next project, students will paint a sunset mural at the Spring Street Bridge.

“Basically, we started small and we’re going to get bigger,” volunteer coordinator Brandi A. Jones said. “We hope to be commissioned for more community murals next summer. And we hope to start a group for the younger children as well, because they need it.”

Materials for the project are donated by the city’s Pride and Beautification Commission.

The project is supported by the City of Ogdensburg and Ogdensburg Department of Parks and Recreation.

Ms. Jones, an art therapist, said art has therapeutic value and encourages kids’ creativity.

“There are lots of recreation programs for sports, but there are not a lot of programs for those kids who are interested in the arts,” Ms. Jones said. “So, for me, it’s all about getting kids involved and touching that artistic, creative side that they have.”

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