After a long day at school, unwinding with some creativity may be just what some members at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County need. At the Goshen Clubhouse, Brityna VanHooser is just the person to help foster that creativity.
She joined the Club team about a year ago after studying graphic design at Grace College. She said she loves to see inspiration sparked in the young members.
“I want to help them find their niche and passion in the art world,” VanHooser said. “I have a love of teaching young minds how to use color in their projects. It’s so cool to help them discover that combining two colors can create a new color.”
For the older members, that inspiration may come from experimenting with different forms of media.
“I have a teenager who has taken a canvas and is using construction paper to create layers. She was so inspired by what she’s able to create,” VanHooser said.
The atmosphere of the Club allows for flexibility that schools may not be able to offer.
“Schools have a certain criteria they have to use. I’m not bound by that so we can experiment with different materials,” she said. “When we were working with clay, we let them create what they wanted. Many of them were building onto their original concepts. I don’t want to limit that creativity.”
VanHooser said she’s noticed a change in some members during the past year – especially one 7-year-old boy who was struggling with behavioral issues.
“He was encouraged to start coming into the art room. Now he has very few problems. All the pent-up energy is going into his art. He was recognized as our artist of the month. Now he wants to give advice to the other kids. He was also excited to bring his grandma in to see his work,” she said.
It’s moments like that which inspire VanHooser to keep inspiring and encouraging the members at the Club. She knows firsthand what encouragement can do.
“When I was their age, I wanted to be an artist. Other kids told me that I wasn’t good enough so I gave up. I tried sports and theatre, but couldn’t see a future in that. In high school, I went back into the art room and the teacher encouraged me.”
She said that made a big difference and changed her career path. VanHooser said kids just need someone to believe in them. She works to be that person and show them the joy that comes from loving what you do.
“We have a lot of fun in here. I enjoy my job.”