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Focusing on the Future. A relational art project with fourth grade students. Emily Szymanski and Emily Gleeson. Objective.

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focusing on the future

Focusing on the Future

A relational art project with fourth grade students

Emily Szymanski and Emily Gleeson


Our objective was to reach out to a low-income school in St. John’s county, seeking to get fourth grade students to think positively about their futures. We wanted to help them set goals, and more importantly, get to reflect on how the choices that they make now will affect them in the future.


“Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others cope with symptoms, stress and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.”

—Art Therapy Association, 2013

main goals of our project
Main Goals of Our Project
  • Emphasize to the children the importance of setting goals.
  • Orient them towards careers:
      • We asked them to write about what they aspired to do in the future.
  • Help them to develop their own personal concepts of “identity”.
a symbolic approach

We used the image of a tree to represent the concepts of the past, present and future.

    • Roots: past experiences that ground you as an individual
    • Trunk: how you define your identity now (as a fourth grade student)
    • Branches: goals that you have for the future
A Symbolic Approach
assessing our progress
Assessing Our Progress:
  • At the close of our project, we distributed surveys to the children, in order to assess how much they had learned.
  • We hope to have not only have engaged these children for a four week period, but also to have inspired them to set positive goals for years to come.
giving back
Giving Back
  • The remaining of our funds were donated to the school’s art program, through the purchase of needed supplies.