Magnetic Photo DIY

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Magnetic Photo DIY

Whether you’re marching or volunteering today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the ideal time to reflect on the figures we admire most — to think about the way their values and their stories contributed to the great leaders they became and inspire us to become.

Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., we hope to march into 2018 with vision and purpose, while looking back at the way our pasts have shaped our stories. At Community Art Sunday this Sunday, January 21, we’ll be crafting to that effect, creating vision boards, journals, and these DIY magnets to tell our stories and visions for the future. Join us this weekend or get a jump start on crafting today, using this step by step guide.
Magnetic Photo DIY

Gather your supplies! You’ll need:

  • Magnetic tape
  • Mod Podge
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrush
  • Reuse flat surface
  • Photo printouts of the courageous leaders who inspire you most

Magnetic Photo DIY


First, trace your photo with your reuse flat surface. This surface will act as the back of your magnet, so your photo will need to fit snugly on top of it.

Magnetic Photo DIYSTEP TWO

Trim the photo using the traced outline of the reuse flat surface, so that the image is the exact size of the surface.

Magnetic Photo DIYSTEP THREE

Next, trace and cut a strip of the magnetic tape to the exact width of your reuse flat surface. Remove the tape’s adhesive and stick it to the back of the surface.

Magnetic Photo DIYSTEP FOUR

Apply Mod Podge to the back of your photo using the paintbrush and adhere it to the front of the reuse flat surface. Be sure to brush Mod Podge onto the front of your photo as well to give it a sheer shine.

Magnetic Photo DIYVOILA!

Your magnet is complete! Stick your courageous leader on any magnetic surface and use it to display words of inspiration, meaningful art, or your plan to make an impact in your community.

And don’t forget to join us for Community Art Sunday this Sunday, January 21, where we’ll be making these magnets, plus other art inspired by the stories of great leaders. RSVP here.



2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review

As we look ahead to a new year at Creative Action, we’re also taking the opportunity to look back at what we accomplished in 2017. As with every passing year, we met new students, parents, and teaching artists, were presented with new challenges, and found new ways to make an impact in our community at large.

The Facts

In 2017 we:

  • Delivered 40,000+ programming hours in high-quality arts education and enrichment
  • Reached 22,000 young people and the adults who care for them in greater Austin
  • Served 80+ schools and community sites across Central Texas
  • Reached 75% low-income youth and families with free and affordable arts programs that help close the opportunity gap among at-risk youth

And we did so much more than just show up: we effected real change. Like the 93 percent of after school students who said they learned how art can change people in positive ways last year, we too saw the tangible impact our programs had on young people and the communities they live in.

The schools and communities we reached in 2017:

The Change

From our interactive, in-school, theatrical performances, students strengthened social and emotional, critical thinking, and problem solving skills.

Via our Courage to Stand in-school program, for example, fourth and and fifth graders learned to prevent bullying, resulting in 63% reported decrease in bullying on those campuses. Eighty-two percent of sixth through eighth graders we serve feel more confident speaking up when they experience bullying or sexual harassment after undergoing the Crossing the line program. And kindergarten through second graders we worked with used the four-step conflict resolution process they learned in the Heroes/Los Héroes interactive performance program at a rate of 88 percent, according to their teachers.

I learned that even if I don’t know how to solve a problem I can put myself in their shoes to see how they feel,” said one 6th grade student after experiencing our Crossing the Line program.

The Social Impact

Outside of the classroom and interpersonal relationships, students also learned the value of art in making a social impact. Ninety-six percent of the teens involved in our programs say they now have the tools and language to respond to social justice issues in their community after participating in Color Squad, Youth Cinema Collective or Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble. In 2017, they put those tools into practice by creating a mural for the local food bank, a film about the effect of immigration (that played on PBS!), and a performance about sexual harassment and consent.

“This program has changed the way I think about social justice, and my role as an activist because I have realized that theatre can be made for youth and still be impactful and carry an important message,” said one 10th grade student involved in our Changing Lives program.

As an organization, we also moved to make more of a social impact in 2017. Last year, we continued our strategic plan, conceived in 2016, to implement social justice initiatives at Creative Action, including social justice circles for people of color and for white, anti-racist allies. We also kickstarted a collaborative fellowship with Six Square Austin’s Black Cultural District in 2017, helping the organization to achieve their mission of re-animating the historical black cultural district of which we are a part.

Also in 2017

Other special highlights include winning the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Camp” in their 2017 Best of Austin awards, partnering with East Side Pies to raise more than $8,000 (and to eat lots of pizza), receiving a SXSW Community Service Award, and hosting all of our annual community events.

Thanks you to all who made the year such a great one! We can’t wait to go further in 2018.

Universal Declaration of Children's Rights

The Universal Declaration of Children’s Rights, As Told by Students

What kind of human rights are inalienable to the littlest among us?

That’s the question Creative Action students at Gullett Elementary tackled this semester, eventually coming up with a lengthy list of rights they believe every child should be afforded. 

Students were inspired to come up with the list after Teaching Artist Rebecca Mauldin read them snippets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafted by the United Nations.

Following a semester of learning about friendliness and respect, the rights the young leaders came up with echo values we can all get behind (like the right to have a spaceship).

The universal children’s rights, as declared by Gullett Elementary students, are as follows:

Everybody should make art.

All kids should have yummy food.

All kids should go to the doctor’s office if they’re sick or if they’re cold.

All the kids need to have shoes.

All kids deserve to be treated fairly.

All kids need hugs.

All kids should be listened to.

Every kid in the world should have books.

All kids need cups so they can drink.

All kids should be able to play.

Kids should have friends and harmony.

All kids deserve to have a snack.

Kids should be treated nicely and fairly.

Everyone has to have a place to have a better world.

All kids deserve to have a family.

All kids should have pajamas and costumes.

All kids deserve food and water.

All kids should have the right to have homes.

All kids should have a playground.

All children need toys.

No kid should be kidnapped.

All kids should have clothes.

All kids will have some toys from the toy store.

All kids deserve to be scientists.

Kids will be treated with respect.

All kids deserve to be treated kindly.

Everyone should have a place to be respected.

No kid should be bullied.

Kids should not be homeless and sad.

All kids deserve to be happy.

Every kid in the world deserves to have a spaceship.

arts senior community

“Continuing Creativity” Brings a Social and Creative Outlet to Senior Community Members

While Creative Action’s mission is to spark and support the academic, social, and emotional development of young people, our work doesn’t end after students turn 18. In fact, one of our community-based programs, Continuing Creativity, focuses on supporting the creative and social needs of our neighbors who are young “at heart.”

Engaging the Senior Community in Storytelling

Continuing Creativity is designed for adults ages 65 and up to engage them and teach them new skills through a curriculum that incorporates creative writing, storytelling, and community-building games.

Christie Jean-Jacques, Creative Action’s School and Community Outreach Coordinator, leads the class of seniors. Beyond the classroom, she takes time to check in on participants throughout the week by joining them for lunch or visiting with them on the phone.

“We live in a time when senior citizens are often not recognized for their value,” Christie said. “It’s the way our culture has developed, and we’re missing out on the knowledge they bring to our community. The Continuing Creativity program brings their voices to the forefront by allowing them to share their stories with pride, not only with each other but with everyone who they interact with.”

Arts Class Senior Citizen Community

How It Works

Each class begins with a review of the schedule so participants can prepare for the day. Christie leads a brief warm-up exercise, giving each participant five minutes to respond to a prompt, usually surrounding a simple but thought-provoking inquiry, i.e. “describe a time where you recently felt motivated.”

The class then stands up for a light physical warm-up to music, before playing a memory or quick-thinking game. Finally, participants begin working on their current “big” project, which may include interviews, deep listening activities, class poems, poster dialogue, and more.

One recent project involved the seniors pairing up as pen pals with some of Creative Action’s elementary-aged after school students from a nearby HACA site. Paired pals wrote letters and sent art to one another, with both sets of students showing their enjoyment throughout the process and verbalizing the new things they learned from one another. The pairs also enjoyed co-writing stories, with seniors drafting the first half and young students writing the ending.

Outstanding Moments

Christie has experienced many outstanding moments while leading the program, but one of her favorite stories revolves around a Continuing Creativity participant she calls Ms. Vincent.

“When Ms. Vincent (who was 86 at the time) first came to the Continuing Creativity story-gathering class, I quickly assumed she wouldn’t be returning,” Christie said. “She slumped down in her chair and frowned throughout the hour, only responding with occasional grumbles of discontent. She begrudgingly stood and participated in word association activities when the air-filled beach ball was passed to her.  

“How wrong I was! Ms. Vincent not only returned the following week, but every single week after. She would even drive herself if she missed the community van!

“She soon began smiling and chuckling in response to others’ jokes and silly stories. She proudly gave permission for me to recite a poem she’d ‘accidentally written’ in response to a childhood memory. If she didn’t hear or understand something, she loudly asked for clarification and would ‘look out for’ the other participants if they seemed to have confusion about an assignment.

Arts Classes Senior Citizens

“By the end of our four months together, Ms. Vincent had shared openly about her divorce, multiple miscarriages, family customs and values, unfulfilled dreams, proud accomplishments, and work history.  It was hard to get her to stop talking by the end.

“At our final class sharing, she wore a beautiful blouse and wig. She smiled at the donated photos displayed of her in younger years. She rose to her feet to proudly recite her lines, though we’d never rehearsed standing!  Needless to say, her classmates began to follow by her example.

“This is the end of our fifth semester of classes together, and at 88 years old, Ms. Vincent is still a faithful leader in the group.”

Another notable moment for Christie involves a class participant who suffered a stroke ten years ago. Since joining the program, she has regained the physical ability to hold a pen and write through class activities. She has attended classes for two years now, and is excited that her once perfect handwriting is nearly back to normal.

Know someone who may be interested in receiving Continuing Creativity programming?

Christie encourages readers to tell the seniors in their lives who may be interested in a creative social outlet to contact her or our Director of Community Engagement at 512-442-8773 x123. To learn more about the program and to preview next semester’s programming, check out the Continuing Creativity page.

Creative Action Celebrates “Lights on Afterschool 2017”

Today is Lights on Afterschool!  Organized by the Afterschool Alliance, Lights on Afterschool is a national initiative designed to inform communities of the importance afterschool programming plays, and to ensure all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs.

In honor of this year’s celebration, we’d love to share Creative Action’s Afterschool impact from the 2016-2017 school year.

Creative Action After School programming impact:

At Creative Action, we believe all youth deserve and benefit from high-quality, innovative  programming that teaches them social skills critical to their future success. 

This is why we offer after school programming based on individual financial needs, with payment options including fee-based, sliding scale, and free. We serve 42 campuses each week in Austin, Bastrop, Del Valle, Eanes, and Manor Independent School Districts, reaching 3,000 youth — and with your support, we plan on continuing to expand and serve more in the future.

Program evaluations from 2016-2017 show that after participating in Creative Action out-of-school time (OST) programs:

  • 91% of youth agree they are a better artist because of their program and 82% feel they can use art to express themselves.
  • 88% agree their class has shown them that art can change people in a good way.
  • 83% feel they learned new skills for working with others.
  • 84% feel safe and accepted in the program.
  • 93% say they now stand up for people who are being treated unfairly.
  • 95% are able to see multiple sides to every story.

Most importantly, 95% of Creative Action Afterschool program participants believe they can make a difference in the world — and so do we.

Students in our programs are shining a light on the value of after school programming. And you can help ensure even more youth can participate in high-quality afterschool programming in years to come!

3 ways you can support Lights on Afterschool Day:

1. Tell your friends, family, and neighbors about the importance of afterschool programming.

Though Creative Action isn’t hosting a dedicated Lights on Afterschool event, you can still support Learn All The Time (LATT), our local network committed building a healthy ecosystem of high-quality out-of-school time programs. Additionally, LATT focuses on making these programs accessible for all Central Texas youth, regardless of economic background.

2. Eat tacos — seriously!

Show your support for afterschool programming in true Austin fashion by eating tacos. How much easier could it get?

This month at Mi Madre’s, 50% of sales of their Taco of the Month will support LATT! So spread the word about Creative Action and the importance of after school programming, then bring your friends and family to Mi Madre’s for a philanthropic chow-down.

3. Support Creative Action’s afterschool programming.

According to the Afterschool Alliance, 11.3 million children in the U.S. are unsupervised after school.

Did you know a $1,000 donation to Creative Action pays for six months of high-quality afterschool programming for one child? If you’re more interested in smaller gifts, consider joining our Creative Circle, which provides monthly donations to Creative Action to provide scholarships for our after school programs along with other critical support.

Please consider giving what you can by donating to Creative Action. In turn, we will use your gift to provide children with a safe space to stay after school hours, developmental curriculum that teaches them critical interpersonal skills, and of course, engaging arts programming.

Donate Now!