The Boys & Girls Club started in athletics but has grown to provide countless opportunities for every kid in the community. For the past three summers in Green Bay, a one-of-a-kind program has sparked creative genius in local kids.
Local 5’s Brittany Falkers headed to the club’s west side center to meet this month’s Terrific Teacher, Professional Teaching Artist Craig Knitt. He is inspiring his students to think outside the box in graphic design.
A visual artist, filmmaker, and comedian, Knitt has been teaching for more than two decades in his hometown of Marion, Wisconsin. However, he moves his life to Northeast Wisconsin for the summer, specifically, to work on the Youth Arts Initiative (YAI) for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay.
“It’s important to have the opportunity to share yourself with the world and I tell my kids that all the time,” Knitt said. “It’s like, you’ve got something within you that only you can share with the world.”
The YAI is one of only three clubs in the entire country to be part of this pilot program, which is made possible through a grant from the Wallace Foundation.
Kids have the chance to learn about visual arts from Knitt, but that’s just one leg of the program. Three other professional teaching artists offer classes in music, filmmaking, and dance. Collaboration and real world applications are key in their sessions as well.
“We’re always trying to teach our kids what it takes to get out there in the business world with an idea and really take things seriously,” Knitt said.
Knitt’s class has created labels for packaging, a calendar, and even their own comic books. As the summer comes to an end these kids have been busy with their student-made TV show, Food Shack, Episode II. It’s the second part of a show that has been two years in the making.
“Boy oh boy, they should be so proud. They helped write the story, they helped design the characters, they helped with all the aspects of shooting it,” Knitt boasted.
While Knitt hopes many of his students will find careers in the visual arts he says he has accepted that many, if not most, will not pursue a future in the arts. However, the other skills they will take away will help them no matter what they do.
“I do know that they’ll be using the creative problem-solving skills that they’ve gained in this space right here every day of their lives and to me, that’s where there is true value in what the arts can bring,” Knitt said.
The Boys & Girls Club offers unique programs all year long for kids ages 7 to 18. Yearly membership is just $10 and summer sessions are $100 per student.
If you are interested in joining the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay visit their Web site at www.bgcgb.org.
If you know a teacher who goes above and beyond in the classroom let us know. Nominate them to be next month’s Terrific Teacher by emailing Brittany Falkers at email@example.com.