LANDSTOWN – Malik Holman, 15, knows how tough it is being a military brat.
Sometimes it’s downright difficult – and hard to express.
“It’s about change and a large variety of things going on in my life all the time,” the Landstown High School freshman said. “Not everyone understands.”
Holman participated in the Military Kid Art Project, a collaborative effort between the city schools and library that includes camps for students and a recent art show at the Joint-Use Library.
A grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity paid for the program at the Beach, a city with a public school system in which nearly three in ten students have a military connection.
Lora Beldon, an artist and creator of the Military Kid Art Project, said she started the program because she was a military child.
“When you look at the art the kids have produced, you’ll see the pieces help bring out feelings as they try to figure out life in this subculture,” she said.
Landstown Middle School’s Amanda Linch, 13, contributed a sculpture to the show. Her love of Greek mythology influenced her choice. She said the liked playing with light and dark in the piece.
“”I joined the program because I really love showing people that being a military brat has many different sides,” the eighth grader said.
Abigail Ward, 15, painted a picture of the world with weeds around it because she said it is tough to be a military child.
The Landstown High freshman is part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program. She said, “No matter how many struggles come into your life, you can still learn something beautiful and amazing.”
Abigail’s father, Anthony Ward, said he was proud and honored to have his daughter participate in the project.
“This program helped improve the quality of life,” the a retired aviation engineer said. “It keeps the kids active and moving in a positive direction.”
The program is funded by a $2.5 million grant that ends this year, its third, according to Christy McAnally, military and academic support programs coordinator for city schools.
The culminating activity was the Military Kid Art Exhibition.
The grant gave the school system money to make the six participating schools more “military conscious and assist with the difficult challenges military kids face that their civilian counterparts aren’t challenged by,” McAnally said.
Eighty-nine students participated in the two day camps which were held on Saturdays and started in November 2014 and ended in April. They were taught by artists, art teachers and adult military kids. Lessons included sculptures, two dimensional art and videography.
McAnally said the program helps the kids deal with issues of deployment, multiple moves and attending different schools around the country and world.
She saw Malik Holman come into the program thinking he would participate for one session because there was a fund raiser car wash on the second day of the camp to raise money for his first love: soccer.
At the end of the first day, Holman’s teachers convinced him to come back for day two because they were so impressed with his work and creativity.
Holman said he has gotten in touch with his artistic skills through an iconic painting depicting the world through war – something he had not thought about before.
Now he says that when he looks at the piece he feels the need to fight for what he believes in and protect those he loves.
“This experience has opened my mind to many other opportunities like writing and drawing to express my thoughts and feelings,” he said. “That will allow me to be the best I can be.”