AmeriCorps Week Highlight: Joy Training

Thanks to all who tuned into our member highlights for AmeriCorps week last week! We’d like to share a highlight of our AmeriCorps week with you. In an illustration of organizational collaboration and partnership that is the basis of GEP’s model, AmeriCorps VISTA members at GEP worked together to coordinate a training that was available to AmeriCorps members across the state. The workshop details were organized by GEP VISTA Saiham Sharif, and AmeriCorps members from two state-level organizations, Volunteer Iowa and Iowa-Minnesota Campus Compact, attended.


Photo: Pieces from a collaborative art project between Grinnell students and the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, supported by the Mollie Tibbetts Memorial Fund for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, were used to create a mobile that now greets visitors to the Grinnell College Museum of Art.


This training was special to GEP because it was presented by one of our partners. Tilly Woodward, Curator of Academic and Community Outreach at the Grinnell College Museum of Art, serves as a host-site supervisor for year-round programming and also currently serves on the Healthy Readers Taskforce. Tilly and GCMoA have been the centerpieces of the current distribution of high-quality art prints and supplies to children in the Grinnell Area, which has been supported by our AmeriCorps VISTA Ziggy Thétard and the Healthy Readers Taskforce.


The training was focused on helping young learners find joy, a topic that is particularly relevant to those involved in GEP’s projects. Tilly shared multiple examples of outreach projects from GCMoA, including illustrations of cross-community cooperation. Her presentation explored how creative art activities allow young learners to develop social-emotional competence as well as improve their literacy skills. Attendees also learned about the stages through which children learn to write and communicate while getting tips on how to encourage authentic self-expression for all people who might engage in creating art.


Photo: Students work together to create.


The discussion after her presentation was very enlightening and included ideas for activities such as book making and including nature in our art. Thank you so much to Tilly Woodward for the excellent presentation, “Art, Literacy, STEM, Joy.” We plan for Tilly’s presentation to be included in future trainings, especially for our summer members who are involved in direct service with young learners. And for the time being, you can always check out the after-school virtual art and literacy programs for children that are run through the partnership of GCMoA, DCL, and GEP AmeriCorps member Athena Frasca.


We are continually grateful to our partners in the Grinnell area. It is truly a symbiotic relationship, as GEP serves to help provide quality programming and capacity building services, while our partners provide data, training, feedback, and the services to benefit all children in Grinnell.



Photo: Grinnell College Museum of Art was awarded a grant from the Mollie Tibbetts Memorial Fund for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to help create art for the Stead Family Children's Hospital. These collaborative pieces adorn an otherwise drab room for group therapy sessions.