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Allegheny

New Ken Arts Center hosts children's classes through July

| Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 5:24 p.m.

Aleesha Kelly knows a thing or two about art and what it does for people.

Kelly, 35, of Vandergrift was in New Kensington Tuesday with her three children — 9, 5 and 4 years old — at the city’s Art Center on Fifth Avenue for Lego Steam Camp, a free program being offered this week for kids entering grades one through eight.

This week’s program will be followed by a Kids Art Camp, part of a plan by the Arts Center to host child-focused events until the end of July.

Kelly, who is the chair of Vandergrift’s annual arts festival, said her children, like many others, benefit from a chance to step outside the structure of the classroom.

“This provides an outlet that structured classes do not,” she said. “Art is about making a mess.”

According to Kelly, programs such as the one being offered at the Arts Center this month appeal to almost all kids, regardless of interest.

“Not everyone is a cookie-cutter person. Not everyone is an engineer, or a scientist, or an artist, so this really gives them a chance to do whatever they feel like they are good at,” she said.

Kids in attendance Tuesday were playing with Lego blocks, using the small plastic construction toys to build tiny robots designed to throw rings or dunk a basketball.

They were also, whether they realized it or not, learning art.

“Kids do best with a hands-on activity, something that lets them move more than they would in a classroom,” said instructor Amy Amendola of Snapology, a franchise that offers summer camps focused on STEM — short for science, technology, engineering and math. “This really encourages them to be creative.”

New Kensington Arts Center board member Tommy West said the center is hosting the class for a simple reason: A love of art can start at a very early age.

“This is how I got my start,” he said. “I grew up doing this kind of thing, and it really stuck with me.”

Classes will run weekdays until the end of the month, and all are offered free of charge. West said interested parents should sign up soon though, as space is limited and classes are filling fast.

Brylee Black and Clara Kelly work to build a basketball shooting robot with Legos at the New Kensington Arts Center on Tuesday, July 10, 2019.
Brylee Black and Clara Kelly work to build a basketball shooting robot with Legos at the New Kensington Arts Center on Tuesday, July 10, 2019.
Students at the New Kensington Arts Center learn through play on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
Students at the New Kensington Arts Center learn through play on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.
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