Celebrating diversity: NAFCS schools given multicultural crayons, markers

·3 min read

Sep. 17—FLOYD COUNTY — A recent donation is helping local students to celebrate their diversity through artwork.

The New Albany-Floyd County Education Foundation is supplying each NAFCS classroom from preschool through fourth grade with packs of multicultural crayons and markers representing diverse skin tones.

The foundation received a $7,200 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to support the donation, and on Monday, volunteers packed nearly 5,000 sets of Crayola crayons and markers to deliver to local schools.

Tyler Bliss, executive director of the NAFC Education Foundation, said minority students make up nearly one-fourth of the district's student population and he hopes the donation "creates a sense of pride and belonging for all students.

"Our schools are a reflection of our community — we have a diverse population, and we want to give all children the opportunity to accurately represent themselves so they can feel, can see themselves in their artwork and that they can see others," he said.

These art supplies will be used for a future project led by the NAFC Education Foundation and Mary Arnold, the district's elementary art coordinator. They will work with NAFCS art teachers throughout the district for a Duke Energy-sponsored art project called "The Global Me, and What I See."

Students will create self-portraits using the multicultural crayons and markers that will be eventually combined into a paper "quilt" representing students throughout the district. In April, the project will be displayed in the elementary art show at the Floyd County Library.

The idea for the project came from Amanda McMinogle, a parent and board member on the NAFC Education Foundation. She and her husband adopted two sons who are Black, one of whom is a student at Grant Line Elementary in New Albany.

She said she noticed a few years ago how her son had a limited selection of crayon colors to choose from when trying to represent his skin tone, and McMinogle provided boxes of multicultural colors of crayons to his kindergarten classroom. Her son was excited to bring home a self-portrait for a project called "All About Me" using crayons that matched the color of his skin and hair.

"He was able to accurately portray himself with beautiful brown skin and kinky, curly hair, and his classmates could draw him and themselves accurately as well," she said.

McMonigle wanted other students to be able to portray themselves accurately with a diverse set of colors, so she approached the education foundation with the idea of providing these crayons and markers across the district, eventually leading Lisa Huber, government and community relations manager for Duke Energy, to become involved in the initiative.

"The Duke Energy Foundation is proud to support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives like this project," Huber said in a news release. "This is a wonderful opportunity for students to take pride in who they are and showcase their talents."

McMinogle said she is thankful for the support from the Duke Energy Foundation and NAFC Education Foundation.

"Anytime you have a project you think is maybe a good idea — to see others get behind it and also financially support it is great," she said. "It's great teamwork."

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