heartizens

Playing with paint — Volunteers worked on decorating the HIP kits at Utsch’s studio in Healdsburg on May 22.

On June 1, Healdsburg nonprofit Heartizens launched a new virtual summer camp for kids called the “Heartizens Includitude Project,” (HIP) where kids can get art creation kits with supplies to follow along in a series of creative art projects intended to keep kids occupied and engaged in the arts this summer.

So far founder Jennifer Utsch has been able to create around 400 HIP kits. Kids without art supplies can receive program access and the HIP kit for free, otherwise they are $50 per kit, with discounts for families with multiple kids.

The HIP boxes will be distributed June 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Healdsburg Elementary School and June 3 at the Fitch Mountain campus from noon to 3 p.m. There will also be a drive-thru kit pick up at Utsch’s art studio at 444 Moore Lane on June 6 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Utsch is calling the new program a “virtual neighborhood” for art and creativity.

“The HIP kits are really a way for the kids to express themselves,” Utsch said.

The kits will come equipped with construction paper, water colors, a watercolor pad, glue sticks, crayons, supplies to make playdough and kids scissors, among other art items.

Art activities in the HIP program will correlate with the supplies that are provided in the box and once kids complete 10 activities they can rack up points which will earn them a small treat from Amy’s Wicked Slush.

Heartizens was founded in July 2019.

“We ended up getting a city grant and so in April I was supposed to start art labs,” Utsch said. Before she could do so, the coronavirus hit.

She had conducted an after school art program for about three years, but wanted to expand and reach more kids. Once the pandemic began, Utsch had to pivot to a different plan.

“I’ve been collaborating with The Healdsburg School, Healdsburg Elementary School, Fitch Mountain Campus, the high school, the junior high, West Side School and the art teachers there and we’ve been pulling together different art lessons. Putting our thinking heads together, we thought of pulling together a project to be able to support each other,” Utsch said. “We decided with Heartizens, it would be really cool to have some art programs for kids to be able to do to connect to all in the Healdsburg area.”

With the help of the Healdsburg community grant, which was be able to cover the costs of supplies, the idea for the HIP kits and the virtual summer art camp was born.

Art activities include watercolor painting, self portrait assignments and a “create your own flag”  activity.

“They have some construction paper and some string and we are going to create a community flag,” she said. Kids will have supplies to create their own triangle, which will then be added to the flag.

Each kit will also have supplies for kids to create their own self-portrait on a popsicle stick, which they can use to decorate their HIP kit box. Older kids in grades three to five will have supplies to create their own avatar.

“Every time they submit a picture or an art project that they did or theatre, or comedy, they can submit all of that via email and use their avatar,” Utsch said.“It will be like their signature.”

HIP kits can be purchased by calling 707-431-1016 or by emailing Utsch at hip@heartizens.org.

Utsch said of the program, “We just want the kids to be doing something fun and creative for themselves this summer.”

To check out the online art activities or to learn more about the HIP program, visit, www.heartizens.org/HIP

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