Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts

Visual Arts Learning, Celebration and Friendship for Marin Kindergarteners and their Families

At Youth in Arts, our goal is to build creativity, confidence and compassion in all learners, and we do that with impactful and exciting projects like The Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts program. Designed as a visual arts residency for kindergarten and first grade students, it builds fine motor, literacy and social emotional skills while giving children the chance to explore a variety of tools and materials. More importantly, children learn how to make and keep friends when they explore ideas like sharing and empathy.

The program was created in 2013 by Youth in Arts and the Rezaian family to celebrate their son Walker’s life and his love for the arts. Walker also knew how to be a good friend. The Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts program builds important social emotional skills through innovative art lessons. Each class begins with a movement warmup and ends with reflection time so students can practice observing and discussing what they see: they learn how to show us and tell us more about themselves through their pictures.

n her first year teaching the program at Loma Verde, Suzanne Joyal described the process as joyful: “I was delighted by how willing the children were to take a risk and to express themselves in their own way. After lessons, teachers would sometimes express that a child was having difficulty and the only way they could share their emotions was through the artistic process. I couldn’t tell which child it was since they all responded so positively to the art.”

Studies have shown this program helps children succeed academically as they continue to the next grade. We love working with students who have completed the program as it provides an important foundation for Youth in Arts residencies in older grades.

The 12-week residency also includes professional development workshops for teachers, a family art night, a gallery exhibition of student art and a community event celebrating  the young artists.

See our blog for stories and photos from past recipient schools!

  • 3+ months of visual arts residencies in kindergarten classrooms (length of program depends on number of classrooms)
  • Teacher Professional Development Workshop in Visual Arts Exploration
  • Parent Arts Partner Training Workshop
  • Art Exhibit with interactive Community Open House at YIA’s Gallery in Downtown San Rafael

Loma Verde Elementary (2013-14)
Bahia Vista Elementary (2014-15)
Venetia Valley Elementary (2016-17)
Laurel Dell & Short Elementary (2015-20)

Support Kindergarten Arts through the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Program: DONATE NOW and mark your gift is In Honor of Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts.