Have You Heard of the FARTS in the Park?

FARTS in the Park (Free ART Sessions in the Park) is a passion project created with the intent of building community art culture. Co-Creators Frank and Jax host bi-weekly events for families to socialize and create unique, usable art projects.

Previous projects have included superhero capes, wooden mazes, flower leis and sock puppets. Each project is carefully designed to provoke the development of imagination and practice environmental conservation, all while building self awareness through mindfulness activities.

A unique part about this program is that the majority of the projects are made from recycled and/or up-cycled materials, worthless materials that would otherwise be discarded as waste, that are donated by individuals and businesses. Extra items needed are purchased second hand and, as a last resort, purchased new. The projects are carefully selected with the intention of creating entertaining, multiple use toys. Frank and Jax have fun testing and fine-tuning each craft during their weekly planning sessions.

All events are intended to be barrier-free for ease of participation: convenient drop-in time frame with no pre-registration required and all abilities welcomed. There is no cost for participants and project times tailored to the availability of participants (ie. projects can be completed to a rewarding level in 10 – 45 mins as desired). The projects are versatile and designed in a way that children aged 3 – 11 are able to participate with help from their guardians as needed.

Adult supervision is required so that guardians and children are presented with a guided opportunity to work together, create cool projects, and open-up dialogue about the mindfulness theme of the day. Frank and Jax are adept at creating a relaxed and welcoming environment with loosely structured activities that leave room for open creativity in every project. There is no wrong way to have a FART!

Being free, the success of the program relies heavily on material donations from the community and a free space to host events. Frank and Jax volunteer hours of planning/preparation every week, and a small supplies budget that they pay for out-of-pocket and with voluntary monetary donations from participants. Any businesses or individuals interested in donating can reach Jax and Frank through their Facebook page.

So who exactly are these FARTS creators? The dynamic duo first came together while working for the North Columbia Environmental Society, when Jacqueline (Jax) was the 2018 Junior Naturalists Program Coordinator.

Jax’s area of expertise is designing various programs for children and youth aged 4 – 14, incorporating aspects of science, art, language and fun-focused, hands-on teaching methods. After graduating with an advanced honours diploma from Humber College in Ontario for Chemical Engineering Technology, she found herself working overseas at a one-of-a-kind private ESL school delivering curriculum that focused on building student confidence through meditation, mindfulness activities and alternative fun learning methods.

After a few years, this eventually led her to create two unique international cultural immersion summer programs for Korean students in the USA. These programs were designed for children to learn about science, history, geography and North American culture through exploration, creative writing, guided tasks, art projects and lots and lots of games.

Upon returning to Canada, she landed her ‘dream job’, a mad scientist teaching an entertaining extracurricular STEM program at various schools in Toronto, Ontario. Eventually returning to BC, she finally found herself in Revelstoke working for the NCES, bringing some fresh innovative curriculum for the long-standing Junior Naturalist program.

Creators Jax and Frank hard at work.

A few months after wrapping up the program, Francis Madden (Frank), a part-time freelance artist approached Jax with an idea: a barrier-free pop-up family art event for the Revelstoke community. This idea was born from the success of a painting booth he facilitated during the Night Market at the Revelstoke Trading Post. The event proved to be such a success, he believed that the community was in need of a regularly scheduled art program for children and families.

Armed with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Animation and a desire to share the satisfaction of creating something in an encouraging environment, he knew that Jax’s experience with creating children’s programs was the missing link to help make this idea a reality.

After a couple months of planning and more than a few hiccups, they finally started running their program thanks to the Revelstoke Trading Post’s offer to let them use their community space to host their fledgling events in the summer.

Originally the project was only intended to run once per month during the summer season. However, after listening to feedback from participants, it became apparent that there was a need for more consistent events of this nature. In the Fall of 2019, the Revelstoke Library offered them a free space to host their events and the program was able to run more frequently and regularly throughout the fall and winter months.

Over the past few months, they have experienced rapid growth. They have had over 210 participants and have received a significant amount of material donations from businesses and individuals. The most interesting part of the project to them, is the enormous amount of support it has received from community members and business owners that do not directly take part in the actual events (ie. people that do not have children participating in the events). The program helps to re-purpose waste from donors into a quality experience for many children and their guardians.

In the future, Frank and Jax hope to see this program become a recognizable brand that can be self-sustaining and structured to support continuity, so that it can be easily modelled in other communities while facilitated by other program coordinators.

Thanks to the following businesses and individuals for their donations and support of FARTS in the Park:

Home Hardware, Revelstoke Florist, Big Mountain Kitchen, Universal Footwear, La Baguette, Woolsey Creek Bistro, The Dollar Store, The Regent Hotel, Office Print Shop, Lakeside Printing, Flowt, Tantrum, Devanshi Vachhani, Michael Martino, Sarah Darval, Chris Clark, Yen Ma, Ashton Pollard, John Madden, Erin Code, Zuzana Riha, Nik Kijol, Ivan Brovko.

FARTS in the Park would not be possible without the tremendous support of Mark Baron and Joey Norsworthy at the Revelstoke Trading Post and Lucie Bergeron at the Okanagan Regional Library Revelstoke.

FARTS in the Park is currently running at the Revelstoke Library on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month from 2:30pm – 4:30pm.

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