Your BRIDGE back to being active at every age and stage

Art & Fencing

By Darcy Nee

With spring just around the corner, there are some decisions parents and children will be making this month to ensure an enriched and entertaining summer. One of these decisions stems from the question, “What activities are available for my child this year?” or rather something like “What would my child like to do this summer that will be beneficial for him or her?”

Many of the Kinetic Konnections® parents mention that their children enjoy arts and crafts. In addition, although more advanced, we learned that fencing is becoming popular and provides children with a plethora of benefits. To get a better idea of the educational benefits of each and class options locally available, we talked with the experts.

Alyssa Kulak, executive director for Brickton Art Center (BAC) in Park Ridge, said art is one of the first forms of language for children. For those challenged verbally, they can use art as a form of expression and communication. Perhaps, a child struggles with writing and can use pictures to create a story, said Kulak, who also holds a Masters Degree in Art Therapy. BAC is a fun environment that also encourages socialization, Kulak added.

According to the BAC 2009 summer brochure, the educational benefits children receive through the fine arts program also include “learning critical thinking, problem solving and analytical judgment, developing self-esteem and self-discipline, and learning and understanding artistic practices including multi-cultural traditions and viewpoints.”

The summer session offers a variety of classes, including Pee Wee Patriots, which celebrates America, and Pee Wee Picassos, which introduces some of the great artists, world cultures and their works to the preschoolers. For the older children, there are Clever Clay classes and Summer Stock Theater which includes drama lessons, script reading, stage direction, set construction and publicity.

Hristo Etropolski, owner and director of Midwest Fencing Academy in Chicago, said fencing teaches children to think quickly, builds motor skills, coordination and self-confidence. It is mentally and physically challenging, which is very useful in our daily lives. He added that the sport also is becoming popular in American colleges and universities opening up opportunity for scholarships.

Affiliated with the Park Ridge Park District, Midwest Fencing Academy offers classes to ages six and older at its facility in Chicago.

“It is a good sport,” Hristo said. “It is an individual sport and one that teaches you to count on yourself.”