The Allentown Art Museum’s Community Gallery will be a vibrant, colorful space during the first Community Services for Children (CSC) Downtown Year End Showcase, an exhibition of artworks made by children, parents, and educators that celebrates the creative accomplishments of some of our community’s youngest artists. There will be a reception at the AAM from 1 until 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, to open the exhibition, which will continue on view through June 30.

The exhibition features a student artwork from monthly classroom projects, collaborative murals created by CSC teachers, more than thirty parent works, a collaborative student mural, and a short video documentary.

CSC provides early childhood education and human services to economically disadvantaged children throughout 17 counties of northeast Pennsylvania. Headquartered in Allentown, the not-for-profit organization is committed to ensuring a successful future for children. Head Start of the Lehigh Valley is one of CSC’s preschool programs, supporting the cognitive, social, and emotional competence of children from birth to age five. Head Start also provides children and their families with health, safety, wellness, and family development education. The program is responsive to each child’s ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage and is committed to the engagement of families in the development of their children.

The AAM became a partner in the Downtown Head Start program in 2018 and is supported by annual funding from City Center Group. Each year, the AAM caters to approximately 300 students spread across 14 classrooms at CSC Downtown, providing in-classroom art sessions, professional development for educators, enrichment programs, and parent events. CSC families also frequently engage with the other Museum programs such as Arte y Español.

Since 2019 the AAM’s partnership has been directed by education manager Nicole Mangold, who believes that “Art is vital at every age, but especially for the youngest members of our community. Art teaches us vital lessons about ourselves, our lives, and the world. I’m proud to see students grow, learn, and express themselves over the course of the year.” Collaborating closely with teachers and administrators, Nicole crafts a curriculum tailored to students’ learning needs, with a strong focus on social and emotional learning, language acquisition, and motor-skill development.

“Ensuring art is both physically and developmentally accessible is essential,” says Nicole. “The correlation between creative skill-building and academic success during the transition to elementary school underscores the critical need for top-quality support programs.”

Deidra Vachier, CEO of CSC, says, “At CSC we are proud to partner with many outstanding local organizations, and among our favorites is the Allentown Art Museum. For years the Museum has graciously shared their expertise to provide arts-infused education to our children, parents, and teachers. We are thankful for the beauty and enrichment that the Allentown Art Museum staff bring to CSC and the community.”