When senior at Pineville High School Lindsay Birkicht was told to choose a senior project topic, she knew two things for sure. She knew she wanted her project to include art and children. Lindsay had been passionate about art for a long time, and it also had always been a dream of hers to travel to a third world country and work with less fortunate children. With this in mind and the answering of many prayers, Lindsay felt that her calling was to make the dream a reality by teaching art lessons to a group of less fortunate children thousands of miles away. Lindsay knew the importance of art in children’s lives as a way to express themselves and overcome many obstacles that lay before them.
The next question that came up was choosing a location for her journey. Lindsay’s prayers were answered and on December 8th, Lindsay and her mother Rhonda Birkicht, along with Rinda Davis, CEO and founder of Cookie Project Honduras, Inc., traveled to El Naranjal, Honduras, where Lindsay taught the fifty-eight village children of the CPH project art lessons. Lindsay traveled with all the supplies for the art projects including twenty-six pounds of paint, canvases, markers, palette knives, brushes, coloring books and more.
The children that Lindsay had the unique privilege to teach were divided into two groups – the first group consisted of children age three to seven and the second group was made up of eight to twelve year olds. Under Lindsay’s guidance, with the help of interpreters, the children were taught how to mix colors, apply paint to canvas, and be creative. None of the children had ever had the opportunity to paint before. Each child received one small canvas and one large canvas to paint pictures representative of their country. Lindsay also had each child do two handprints. In addition, she had other fun activities for them like decorating Christmas tree ornaments and making artist trading cards. She was amazed at the creativity of the children. Each child took their ornament home so they could each have a little Christmas in their house, even though none had Christmas trees.
Although the successes and blessings from Lindsay’s trip are many, one story stands above the rest. According to Lindsay, one of the children in her project, Roger, was dealing with anger issues and had been struggling with behavior problems. He is presently living with the local pastor because of abusive conditions in his grandmother’s home. However, it was feared that he was going to have to return to his home because the pastor could no longer control his behavior. Through the time that Lindsay was able to spend with him and through the healing aspects of art, he is now not only behaving, but is also developing his talent for painting. Lindsay has received reports since her return home that Roger paints and draws sometimes up to four and five hours a day, and has no behavior problems. Art has been a vessel for this child to release the hurt and anger that he has had stored inside for so many years. This one child alone proved the entire meaning of the project for Lindsay: it is through art that a child can heal from any pain and find joy and happiness.
The final phase of Lindsay’s project is hosting an art show that will display all of the children’s artwork. It will be held on March 11th at the Louisiana College Art Gallery. There will be opportunities to purchase some of the artwork through means of silent auction. All money and donations received will be donated to CPH, Inc. to feed, clothe and install facilities for these beautiful children. Cookie Project Honduras, Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides nutrition, clothing, hygiene supplies, and medical treatment to children of the El Naranjal village. The project has also cemented floors in each of their homes and is in the process of having pilas, or wash stations, installed in the homes of the children. The ultimate goal of CPH is to cure malnutrition in the village and provide the knowledge needed to make sure the problem never occurs again.