by Joey Phoenix
Right now, and honestly always, It’s really hard being a kid. The adults have their eyes glued to the news and while kids may have some sense of what’s going on in the world, they still need outlets to express themselves, space to explore, and opportunities to play.
There have been a number of youth centered organizations doing the work of creating these opportunities and meeting the needs of community youth. Some of them include Raw Art Works in Lynn, Essex Art Center and Elevated Thought in Lawrence, Express Yourself, Inc. in Beverly, and Witch City Kids in Salem.
Jen Inglis started Witch City Kids in 2017 to shine a light on kid-centered activities in and around Salem. Inspired by her preschool-aged (now a first grader!) daughter’s curiosity, she recognized that while Salem had a lot of entertainment and fun activities for adults and tourists, there just wasn’t as much available for youth in the community.
“I wanted to do something that would be fun for kids. We had talked about putting together a coloring book last year, but we weren’t able to because, life,” she said. “And my original thought was that all proceeds from this would be donated to HAWC or the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem.”
But when the pandemic happened and HAWC, a local organization that provides free help and emergency services for victims of domestic violence, had to cancel its annual fundraiser Rock the Block for HAWC, she knew that it was time to make this project happen. She reached out to community members and the We Love Salem kids coloring book was launched within the week.
The submission age range for the coloring book is 3-8 year olds which was a deliberate choice Jen made when designing the project, because it’s an opportunity to see Salem through the little kids’ eyes.
“It’s really hard to keep the littler kids occupied with something and engaged. I thought it might just be a fun thing for parents to do with their younger kids, something that wouldn’t require a lot of work,” she explained.
She’s already received a handful of submissions from local youth, and she’s really excited about what she’s seen so far. She’s also teamed up with the Scarlet Letter Press who will be printing the books themselves.
“Kids are under a lot of stress right now. Even the little ones,” she said. “And I think it will be really cool to keep this as local as possible.”
You can submit your kids creations to email@example.com – each participant will get a $5 gift certificate to a local business of their choice and a copy of the finished coloring book. You can find out more about Witch City Kids and its future projects by visiting https://witchcitykids.com/ or following them on Instagram.
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