When Hannah Richards of Acton spent five weeks touring Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia last spring, she was taken aback by the "inconceivable" poverty she encountered. At the same time, the artist in her also was awoken.
"I was instantly stricken with the thought that these children don't have any art supplies," Richards said. "I am aware that this would not be everyone's knee-jerk reaction, but, at the same time, we cannot help who we are."
After learning that a friend would be traveling to South Africa on a fellowship, Richards decided to launch her own mission to help children communicate their experiences, fears, and dreams through art. While Cynthia Koenig of Ann Arbor, Mich., conducted a clean-water project, Richards led hundreds of children in schools and orphanages in the Limpopo region and townships outside Cape Town in drawing pictures of themselves, their homes, and their families. Each child was given a box of colored pencils and a sharpener to keep.
Ultimately, Richards hopes to compile the pictures from that and future trips in a book documenting a cross-cultural study on children's views of themselves and their worlds as expressed through art.
"It was mind-boggling how appreciative and enthusiastic these children were over the time we spent with them," said Richards, noting the tendency of youngsters to draw frowning or small images of themselves in the upper-left-hand corner, leaving the rest of the page blank - as if they consider themselves to be insignificant.
"A lot of times in the US, we think we've got it all figured out," she said, "but if you look at the world through a kid's eyes, you get a sense of what's really going on." To learn about donating to Richards's Colored Pencil Project, visit thecoloredpencilproject.org.
FIFTY YEARS AND COUNTING: Jean and Bob Seaward of Littleton are celebrating more than the Thanksgiving holiday as today also marks their 57th wedding anniversary. While not many couples reach that milestone, even fewer achieve it while working together for 50 years.
"There's a lot of give and take," Jean Seaward said of her secret to success in both endeavors, "and that's being diplomatic."
As teachers for the Concord public schools when they met and married, the Seawards worked at camps during summers. In 1957, they fulfilled Bob's longtime dream by buying 100 acres of land abutting Littleton's Fort Pond and building Camp Nashoba. Today, the summer camp boasts 100 staff members and 250 campers in two four-week sessions.
While their three daughters originally attended as campers, they now work alongside their parents in the family business. Marcia Seaward Marcantonio of Littleton and Janet Seaward-Durkin of Concord are directors, while Sarah Seaward of Littleton and Maine is director of Camp Nashoba North, which the Seaward family opened nearly 20 years ago in Raymond, Maine.
"Camp to us is very special, and we work hard to make it that way for our campers," said Jean, who lives year-round with her husband in the Littleton camp's main lodge. "Children today are under a great deal of pressure but, at camp, they can try new things with the support, friendship, and camaraderie of the other campers. They root for each other to succeed, which is wonderful."
For more information about Camp Nashoba, call 978-486-8088 or visit campnashobaday.com.
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