Children First encourages young artists

A one-of-a-kind collection of art will be featured at the MacDonald Island Community Art Gallery between November 11 and December 5 featuring pieces created by children in care at the Nest in Eagle Ridge and day homes that fall under the auspices of Children 1st, one of our United Way member agencies.

Reflecting current research in Early Childhood Education, Children First subscribes to the Reggio Emilia or “emergent” philosophy, where the adults are facilitators and the children explorers.

“Children have the freedom to explore their own creativity at their own pace,” said Leslie Ross, Executive Director, Children First.

“Teachers no longer use art materials to merely teach children to illustrate or graphically represent other subjects, but art itself becomes a tool in the child’s development.”

The results of this form of creative learning are impressive as the children take a broad array of materials, from sequins and pastels to aluminum foil and neon paint, to learn concepts and deepen their knowledge of the world around them.

“This child centred art work will comprise our first annual Children’s Art Show and Auction,” said Ross. “MacDonald Island will be hosting an opening reception on November 12th from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Some of the items will be on silent auction during the run of the exhibition with a number of pieces saved for a live auction that will take place during a closing ceremony on December 4th.”

As the process of creation is more valuable than the finished product, observations and photographs of the creative journey will be included as part of the exhibit.

Partially funded by the Big Spirit Grant Program, this innovative project has also been encouraged by the staff at the Suncor Community Leisure Centre.

“Lucie (Bause) and Ana Maria (Mendez-Barks) have been absolutely fabulous to work with,” said Ross. “We are so excited to share the explorations of these remarkable children with the community and the emergent art process.”


Author: Russell Thomas

​Russell is a marketing and communications professional who has spent 20 years in Wood Buffalo working with the OK Radio Group, Keyano College, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, and now with The United Way of Fort McMurray. A regular blogger, Russell's writing can be seen online ( and in multiple publications. His paintings can be seen in homes and businesses throughout the community. Married to Heather and "Papa" to Dylan and Ben, Russell is a passionate spokesperson for United Way.