City program keeps bringing Arts to neighborhood parks

Sunshine, fresh air, socialization and custom refrigerator magnets? Sounds like the answer to the prayers of parents or caretakers with little ones on their hands this summer, but no money for camp and too crazy a schedule for regular commitments.

Now celebrating its twelfth year of bringing a wide range of cultural offerings to city green spaces, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department’s ParkARTS program with help from Comcast will once again sponsor a series of free drop-in children’s craft workshops, serving about 400 youngsters a week. Three of the twelve sites this summer are in Dorchester and Mattapan.

These Artists in Residence Craft Workshops are geared for those three to ten. Toddlers can do simpler version of the day’s project like dabbing paint on a translucent mask, which can be secured on their heads with elastic. Older crafters might apply glitter and feathers to the basic mask, which they might choose to hold in front of them with a stick. Children may come and go as they please between 9 and noon, but there must be an adult with them.

On Tuesdays, folks can join the fun at either Martin Playground Tot Lot, Dorchester or at Hunt/Almont Playground, Mattapan (July 14, 21 & 28, August 4 &11).

On Fridays the crafting moves to Town Field in Fields Corner (July 10, 17, 24 &3 and August 7 &14).

Sessions, which can attract up over 50 youngsters, are run by two art teachers: Erika Shorey and Shana Hicks. They provide all the craft materials, obtained from places like Dot’s ExCL Recycle Center.

Agency reps who want to come with a group should drop by their local site the week before and tell the artist how many kids they’ll be bringing next time so she can be sure to bring enough extra materials.

Shorey emphasizes that though ParkARTS does accept reservations, “This is not daycare. It is primarily geared for parents and kids to spend time together learning to play creatively.”

Hicks, who grew up in Mattapan, notes that all events are held weather permitting, but “Even if it’s cloudy or even misting, I’ll show up.” She always brings along her sponges and make-up in case there’s time for face painting.

For information on this and other ParkARTS programs, call the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at (617) 635-4505, ext. 3051.

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