ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For instructors, summer camps can mean a little extra money and for students a little extra entertainment.
But with the pandemic, it’s been a challenge.
However, Creative Clay in St. Pete says just because they can’t have their summer camps in-person doesn’t mean they can’t have them at all. The art classes are just too important for their students.
Cara Weaver teaches summer art classes at Creative Clay. Her entire class is made up of adults living with disabilities.
“It’s all about building the relationships. So the fact that we can still connect, even though it’s not in-person in the studio, I feel is critical,” said Weaver.
For the past 25 years, the nonprofit organization has made arts accessible to people with developmental disabilities.
“When we closed our physical location, we really needed a way to stay connected with our artists,” said Kim Dorhman.
Dorhman signed up for and received a grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay Needs List, and the virtual class Creative Clay Connects was born.
“We were able to purchase 50 art kits and distribute those around the community,” said Dorhman. “When we start the Zoom class every morning, I get a kick out of just seeing the smiles.”
The grant money also went toward paying their teaching staff.
“It is helpful financially to have this paycheck coming in and for my spirit to keep me going,” said Weaver.
Willi Rudowsky and Hal Freedman were two of the donors who teamed up with the Community Foundation to help keep the arts alive at Creative Clay.
“I know there were some real existential needs, like food and shelter, but psychological needs are existential too and they need to be nurtured,” said Rudowsky.
During Wednesday’s class, students were illustrating the blank pages of a new picture book about a ship’s captain about to discover a new island.
“So we get to use our imaginations and dive into the imagery and see what we come up with so it’s going to be exciting,” said Weaver.
For more information go to www.creativeclay.org.