Canyon Kids and the Quilt
Grand Canyon in September
On a Friday morning last month, I woke up just steps from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I caught the sunrise, had a little breakfast and then headed to the K- Learning Center.
During the summer, I had communicated with the school's director about coming to volunteer with the "Canyon Kids" as she called them. When I arrived I couldn't believe that this little school was so close to the South Rim. What would it be like, to be a child growing up with the Grand Canyon practically in your back yard?
In the first class I had just four young boys. They were delightfully curious about the Old Quilt as we sat and played games. Two brothers were eager to tell me about their mom's quilt projects.
When I pulled out the NEW quilt project the kids began to eagerly point out all their favorite fabric images...dogs, lions, food! On the back of the quilt, they looked at the drawings and words that children and adults have added when I've volunteered in other far away places.
The Boys Add to the Quilt
I gave them each a blank quilt square and they were eager to help add to the project. I guess I was sort of surprised the kids were excited about this. They seemed to "get it" what this was all about. It's not easy to explain.
It was such a treat being able to communicate with these kids! Since my recent volunteer experiences have been with kids who don't share my language, this visit seemed effortless.
Of course, the fact that I had 4 kids in the room and not 30, may have had a little to do with the relaxed feel.
Communicating with Words and Pictures
All of their drawings had lots of detail. "This is a bobcat and he's getting fish from the water." "I put a birthday cake in my picture. And there's some cereal and my mom!" "Look at my teepee!"
The Grand Canyon Influence
There were landscapes, showing the Grand Canyon with rising sun. There were animals, above ground and below!
I was beginning to realize, living in one of the most beautiful areas of the country, was definitely affecting these kids... in a good way!
My Younger Group
My next group was only a little larger, but they were younger and full of energy. I brought out Pickles the Puppet to help them get focused.
Then out came the I-Pod and speakers to make use of their wiggles. They wiggled a lot until they collapsed on the quilt.. when the music disappeared.
My own kids have long since outgrown Beanie Babies and stuffed animals, but there are still supplies hidden in my house. It's lucky there are still kids out there willing to adopt them!
The young kids were delighted. I was so surprised when there were no complaints... about another child having the one they wanted! Every child seemed happy as they examined the one that ended up in their care, when the "passing music" ended.
Older Kids Like Beanies, Too
I went back to my first gang to collect their artwork. I played it pretty cool by inviting them to pick an animal to keep if they wanted one.
You just never know when kids might be too cool for a stuffed toy. What a treat to see them carefully select an animal and tell me why they loved it. I got a kick out of seeing the Kangaroo happily keeping an eye on the classroom from a cubby.
Note on the Board
As I headed to the door, I noticed a note on the dry erase board. I read and smiled and noticed I wasn't feeling "happily drained" like I often do after volunteering. I was relaxed and wishing I had more time to stay!
What Did I Learn from the Canyon Kids?
I think living near the Canyon must be a pretty healthy thing! These kids seemed curious and eager, happy and appreciative. I was only with them a short while, but they made a good impression.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.