Hi Springboard blog,
Last year I chosen as one of Chicagoland’s 18 Under 18 Honorees. I received this honor for my involvement and work in the Jewish community and specifically for my organization, Kayla’s Craft Closet (KCC).
Since I was little, I have loved art and I am passionate about accessibility to art for all children. Unfortunately, so many youth that come from underserved backgrounds do not get to experience the power of art. For me, art is a respite. It is my safe space. And it is upsetting that there are children my age who are unable to benefit from art and creativity like I have been able to. Whether it be beading a bracelet or painting with watercolors on a canvas, art has always been the vehicle in which I express myself and I would not be the person that I am today without it.
I started Kayla’s Craft Closet (KCC) as a way to spread the power of art around Chicagoland and to make arts and crafts accessible to all young people, regardless of their socioeconomic status. I do this by donating bins of high-quality art supplies to organizations that serve underserved youth and creating a space for creativity.
For my impact project as an 18 Under 18 honoree, I expanded Kayla’s Craft Closet to additional locations throughout Chicago. Throughout my project, I have been able to witness firsthand the effect that art has had on others. When I have collected and donated art supplies in the past, it has been so rewarding to see kids get lost in their creativity; their faces light up and they can’t erase their beaming grins. Every time that I receive pictures of the youths’ artwork and their wide smiles, the flame of passion for art within me turns brighter. Therefore, I made it my mission to donate as many KCCs as possible to organizations and youth centers throughout the greater Chicagoland community.
Although I create all of the Craft Closets on my own, I built one with the Jewish community at last year’s 18 Under 18 celebration. As someone who has such a close relationship to her community, I wanted them to be a part of one of my donations. After the celebration, I had a bin filled with donated art supplies that I was then able to donate to an impactful organization. It meant to much to me that I was able to involve my community in my project.
A year later, I have been able to deliver over 15 Craft Closets to youth centers across Chicagoland and I hope that the number continues to grow.
About the Author
Kayla, an Ida Crown Jewish Academy senior, is committed to Chesed and making a difference in her community. At school, Kayla is the co-captain of her school’s student first responder team, Hugo’s Heroes; she is on the leadership board for ICJA’s Israel Advocacy club; and she is the co-president of her school’s charity club, Interact-HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere). She is also a group leader for Student to Student, a peer education program, and is on the student government executive board. Kayla is an editor and writer for her school’s newspaper and the editor-in-chief of her school’s literary magazine. Outside of school, Kayla is a StandWithUs Leventhal intern as well as a member of the Voices Alumni Board, the Chicago Yachad Board president, and she is on the Illinois Holocaust Museum Teen Leadership Board. Kayla is the founder of Kayla’s Craft Closet (KCC), a nonprofit with the goal of making arts and crafts accessible to all youth despite their socioeconomic status. As a part of KCC, Kayla delivers craft closets to youth groups with the purpose of promoting creativity and emotional expression.