Bored kids? Not at Sheffield Lake’s Summer Arts Program


Noah Youngs gets a little help from his mom, Karen, as he paints a rock as part of Sheffield Lake’s annual Summer Arts Program. Waiting his turn for some help is Noah’s brother, Jacob. (Press photo, Michele Murphy)


SHEFFIELD LAKE – Noah Youngs, age 6, is totally focused on painting his rock. His 9-year-old brother, Jacob, stood next to him equally transfixed, paintbrush in midair considering where to dab on a bit more color. Noah looks up and asks if he has used too much paint on his rock. A volunteer instructor overseeing the rock-painting assures him he is doing just fine.

Standing nearby, Noah’s mom, Karen, says both her boys are really interested in the arts and that they already do a lot of crafts. As she points to Noah’s arm, which is in a cast, she says that is not as easy to do right now.

An additional benefit of Sheffield Lake’s Summer Arts Program is that the family is relatively new in town and Karen says she thought the program was a good way to meet others.

At another table, Tanya Balog watches as her two young daughters make red, white and blue door hangers. The girls select from lengths of solid-colored or print strips of cotton, gingham, voile and other fabrics, then carefully tie each strip onto a wooden dowel before holding it up to examine their handiwork. The smile of Jordynns’s face speaks to her satisfaction, while the concentration on the face of her little sister, Taylor, speaks to how seriously she takes her task. Like Karen, Tanya is happy to have a program her daughters enjoy. She says the girls love arts and crafts, and they do them at home. However, this program offers arts and crafts projects that are novel to them.

While kids look forward to a break from school during the summer, parents face the challenge of keeping them happily occupied. For the past four summers, the city of Sheffield Lake has pitched in by offering a free summer arts and crafts program for kids from kindergarten through fourth grade.

Each week, dozens of kids, who must be accompanied by a parent or other adult caregiver, paint, color, draw, cut or design works of art under the tutelage of eight volunteers associated with Sheffield Lake Civic Pride Committee, a group of resident volunteers who run Halloween house-decorating contests, Christmas tree lightings, Easter egg hunts and the Summer Arts Program.

Debbie Suarez, a retired Lakewood school teacher, and Meg Dietz, who teaches at Holy Trinity School in Avon, coordinate the arts program. They say they learned about the city’s interest in developing more kid-friendly and family-friendly programming from a post on social media. The two showed up for an initial planning meeting at the library. Once the brainstorming about possible programs and events began, they were hooked. That was four years ago.

Dietz, who grew up in Sheffield Lake, remembers summer arts and crafts programming when she was a kid. She says the current program, which is free of charge, boosts the city’s image. “We’re not going to be – nor do we want to be – an Avon. We want to emphasize the small-community feeling and to give something special to the kids and the community,” she states.

In addition to solid participation from area families, the two are proud of the volunteers who have stepped up to help. In addition, every item used in the Summer Arts Program is donated whether colored construction papers, paint, markers, scrapbooking materials, ribbons, beads, buttons or markers. They said they are grateful for donations of arts and crafts materials and find interesting ways to utilize them in an activity over the six weeks the program runs each summer. Anyone who may have materials to donate can contact Suarez via email at

Those who are curious to see the works created by these young, budding artists and crafters will have a chance on Monday, July 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the Joyce Hanks Community Center, 4575 Lake Road, Sheffield Lake.

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