Spreading peace for students at Rehoboth (N.M.) Christian School can look like a unicorn, a waterfall, or a forest. This fall, 128 of the school’s elementary students are participating in a program developed by the Memory Project to create artwork to mail and share with Syrian children, who will send artwork back in an exchange, promoting peace and friendship.
Art teacher Autumn Newell initiated the participation, which met with the support of the leadership and community of Rehoboth Christian School.
“They really like that kids are doing something for others and that they don't have to wait until they're "grown up" to do mission work.” Newell also serves as a local mission leader with Resonate Global Mission in the Classis Red Mesa area. Previously, she involved high school students in creating portraits with the Memory Project. This year, the Memory Project introduced a simpler art exchange, one that could include younger students, from kindergarten to sixth grade.
Each student is matched with a Syrian child in a refugee camp and is asked to create art that represents happiness or reminds them of peace, friendship, and kindness. Newell will send the drawings to the Memory Project, each with a $12 fee to cover shipping costs. The Memory Project coordinates the mailing to and from the refugee camps. Fundraising in order to participate in this exchange was part of Rehoboth's involvement.
Deiyanera (fourth grade) painted a rainbow over a waterfall with a pegasus unicorn. “I think water is really peaceful, so I wanted to paint that. And I like horses. I thought maybe the person who got this artwork would like horses, too."
Each piece of art has the child’s hand traced on the back, representing a touching of hands. AJ (sixth grade) drew a mountain, trees, and sunset, saying the person receiving his art might enjoy the beautiful things God created. Jade (sixth grade) also drew creation: “God’s done a lot to make this world beautiful,” she said.
Newell’s students watched a video from the Memory Project and talked briefly about the war in Syria before the students began creating. “Their artwork is beautiful and wonderful because of their creativity and the time each took to make something to send to someone who has experienced so much loss,” Newell said.