Charity Stories

Niagara Pumphouse

Magic happens when a paintbrush is put to canvas. 

For five Niagara children, that magic was in more than the art they created during weeklong summer camp sessions hosted by the Pumphouse Arts Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake last year. It was also in the memories they made — memories made possible by a Summer Camp Mini Grant from the Niagara Community Foundation.

The $1,000 gift to the Pumphouse covered the camp costs for those children, aged five to 12, and gave them the chance to paint, sculpt, make prints and other mixed media work inspired by other artists. They also got try their hands at plein air painting — the muse of so many European masters —on the Pumphouse grounds overlooking the Niagara River, and then show off their work at the end of the week in an exhibition that celebrated their efforts. 

Mostly, they got to be kids during a time that fun forgot with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We believe in the therapeutic benefit to art-making, especially in these difficult times,” said Rima Boles, Niagara Pumphouse director. “There’s a lot of stress on kids. Participating in creative activities, creating visual art and focusing on creative activities can help in these stressful times.”

One participant discovered he loved painting. Two others, who arrived to Canada two years ago from Syria via Lebanon, got to spend time with other children in their community. The siblings hadn’t been able to attend school in Lebanon and then arrived here just as the pandemic and lockdown living started. 

Their only exposure to other children was virtual, during online learning for school. That made an in-person summer camp experience even more special, Boles said.

“Having the in-studio experience was such an important part, especially for these children to meet new friends and integrate into the community.”