Naysayers draw cutting conclusions when deeming art a daft diversion for youths. Anna Burke responds to such critiques by esteeming the discipline as a developmental gem, and the East Passyunk Crossing dweller will promote its benefits for bolstering parent-child interactions the next three Saturdays at Capitolo Playground, 900 Federal St.
“Creativity is vitally important no matter what age we are, and it’s especially powerful for children,” the 29-year-old art therapist said of seeing her upcoming workshops at the Passyunk Square site as showing the rewards of sharing ideas and producing handiwork with one’s offspring. “It’s so significant to encourage art, and, frankly, it parallels with preparation for so many other areas, notably reading comprehension.”
The advocate will make her 75-minute presentations in conjunction with the nearly three-year-old South Philly Parents Resource Center, which hosts many events at Columbus Square Recreation Center, 1300 S. 12th St. Already running a mother-child therapeutic group for the community entity, she felt a supplemental source of support would intensify integration for parental journeys into youngsters’ ever-evolving curiosity. Wanting to offer something educational and fun as opposed to a strictly clinical tutorial, she seeks to have her fellow begetters experience the thrill of a mini return to their own childhood.
“It’s easy as parents to believe we’ve lost our creativity somewhere,” the wife of TJ and mother of 15-month-old Harper said of emphasizing having adults reflect progress by their progeny through drawing like their kin and focusing on the moment by refraining from indulging in true diversions like cell phone use. “So often we end up telling our children ‘no,’ but there’s so much to gain from saying ‘yes’ to their creative side.”
Toddlers, whom Burke dubbed “little teenagers” for their similarities in coveting autonomy yet requiring authority, frequently factor into her work for the Northeast Philly-situated Center for Families and Relationships and will garner an extra opportunity to shine Saturday, as she will assist 2-and-a-half- to 4-year-olds, with one parent or guardian permitted for each child. Most interested in helping the caregivers to appreciate, champion and contribute to the flow of creativity, Burke, whose curriculum will include non-artistic elements like stories and songs, sees creativity as having definite subjective and objective merit. For individuals, occasions to contribute to the world foster a sense of accomplishment, with the universe at large benefiting from ingenuity grand or small.
“We set limits and boundaries, both as parents and grown-ups,” she said. “We shouldn’t stifle creative impulses, though.”
Flavored with numerous creative juices, Burke lived on the West Coast until she was 10, with her family relocating to Northeast Pennsylvania. Excited to learn as much as possible, she attended Temple University, busying herself primarily through English and Art History studies, with photography as another interest. Enthused to determine the scope of her intellectual prowess, she developed an infatuation with fathoming burgeoning brains through a five-year stint as a nanny.
“I loved perceiving how they perceived everything around them,” Burke, whose own pursuits include having co-directed “Fefu and Her Friends” for the 2009 FringeArts Festival, said of falling for youngsters’ investigatory natures. “Working with their parents, too, gave me even more insight, and I realized I wanted to provide help to a larger extent.”
After completing prerequisites, she engrossed herself in Drexel University’s Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital-situated Master of Arts in Creative Arts Therapies program, with art therapy as her concentration. Graduating in September, she has since become more compelled to compel her clients to analyze their roles as creators.
“I just really believed I could help them to see art as a great aid for expression and a helper for understanding responsibility,” Burke, whose benefactors include children, adolescents and adults, said of her seven-year tenure helping families in the Philadelphia area. “There’s an abundance of information out there on how to integrate children into society, too much information, it seems to me at times, so when I graduated, I thought there wasn’t enough that is geared toward developmental growth.”
She has used her enthusiasm for a more diverse exploration of budding idea hatchers to forge a great bond with the South Philly Parents Resource Center. With receptivity to her therapeutic work, it acknowledged her creative identity, too, by approving the impending gatherings. With the majority of her assisted youths ranging from ages 5 to 9, Burke will enjoy the chance to charm younger participants, as it will provide observable glee for them and apparent bliss for her.
“I look forward to my daughter’s maturation and my observation of it,” she said. “Art’s certain to be a part of that as are discussions of just making something and being engaged. That’s vital, too.”
Working toward becoming a board certified, registered art therapist, Burke is also devising a few offerings for My Fabulous Mama, 1610 South St., and revels in continuing to reveal the unbreakable bond between a child’s flourishing and a parent’s nourishing.
“Putting the therapeutic and the creative components together is a win-win situation,” she said. “I’m excited to be a part of the formative years for children and another voice for parents to hear.”
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