Emotion painting by Upstream Arts participants

Emotion painting by Upstream Arts participants

Yesterday, several of our teaching artists returned from working with Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) students in the Minneapolis Public School district and told us an incredible story.

The teaching artists had brought in “Yes, No, I Don’t Know,” an acting game we often introduce at the beginning of programs and revisit again at the end. In this game, two participants are put in a “scene” together and given the task of changing the circumstances of the scene (e.g. one has to get the other to move from one chair to a different chair) using only the words “yes,” “no,” and “I don’t know.” The limited vocabulary spurs the participants to explore nuance, implication, facial expressions, body language, and other conversation skills. The game also helps young students with basic skills related to participation, such as following directions, taking initiative, taking turns, and making choices.

The students, mostly between the ages of 3-5, played the game yesterday and had fun as usual; but after the session, the teachers and assistants were bursting with excitement, nearly in tears. They told our teaching artists that one of the young participants in the group had chosen to say “yes” for the first time – not just in the Upstream Arts program, but in his life.

Often, this game is about everything except the language; but yesterday, we were blown away by the power of choosing “yes.”

This story is just one of many beautiful examples of work YOU have made possible through your support of Upstream Arts. Thank you for your belief in the vital importance of arts education.

May your holidays be full of love and light.