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Dave Olson, Published February 01 2014

Video: Plains Art Museum event helps kids create ‘Clay for a Cause’

FARGO – The Plains Art Museum held a Kid Quest activity Saturday and more than 200 children took part in the day’s theme of “Clay for a Cause.”

The children were asked to make a clay tile for themselves and at least one tile that will be given to a patient of Hospice of the Red River Valley.

Each tile gift will also come with a personal note of encouragement.

Maya Wyganowska was concentrating on making a clay figure for her tile when she was asked if her project might end up brightening someone’s day.

“Yeah, I hope it does,” said the 9-year-old, who along with her siblings has been attending Kid Quest sessions for a number of years.

“Sometimes, I bring my friends along and they really like it,” she said of the activities, which are held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. the first Saturday of each month, starting in October and continuing through April.

Maya’s mother, Joanna Wyganowska, said she appreciates that her four children get the chance to enjoy the museum’s artwork while dabbling creatively themselves, all at no cost.

“What I like about the program is that each month they’re discovering something different, they play with a different medium,” Joanna Wyganowska said.

The free programming is made possible by funding from Xcel Energy, as well as backing from The Village Family Magazine and Minnesota Public Radio, said Brianna McNelly, manager of youth programs at the museum.

McNelly said the ages of children who participate in Kid Quest vary from the very young to middle school students.

Saturday’s event was particularly special, according to McNelly.

“Some families have explained to their children, who may not know what Hospice is, that Hospice is something that helps people to stay in their homes when they really aren’t feeling well.”

Bonnie Oelschlager, marketing and communications manager for the local Hospice chapter, said the tiles created Saturday will make a difference.

“A lot of the people that we care for are homebound and we know that one of the best things we can do for them is bring the outside world in,” Oelschlager said.

“When we partner with the Plains Art Museum on a project like this, where children are making artwork themselves and giving them to people simply to make them smile, we think it’s going to have quite an impact,” she said.

Hospice of the Red River Valley serves 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota and cares for about 275 people every day, according to Oelschlager.

Jen Nelson, a teacher at Horizon Middle School in Moorhead and facilitator for the Kid Quest program, helped shape the theme of Saturday’s activity.

“Art is such a universal language and sometimes art says things you’re not able to say with words,” Nelson said.

“Hospice serves people who have life-limiting illnesses and so we were hoping that by giving them a piece of children’s art, it would bring some joy to their lives and to their families when they’re going through such a tough time,” Nelson added.

Saturday’s Kid Quest was a first for Tricia Erstad and her daughter, Chelsea, 4.

“We’re going to come again. It was fun to work with the clay,” Tricia Erstad said.

Kid Quest is popular, with sessions regularly seeing between 200 and 250 children, organizers say.

“They sign up two weeks before the event, so we get a count. As soon as it’s open to sign up, it’s just immediate,” said Amy Richardson, communications director for the museum.

Upcoming Kid Quests will be March 1 and April 5.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555