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"Furtopia Arts for Kids Community Project" a success!!

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The Furtopia Arts for Kids Community Project has had it's first successful event and what a success!!! http://artsforkids.furtopia.org

On 10/20/2004 several Furtopian artists and a fursuiter went to the "Dayton Children's Medical Center" (this is a huge Children's hospital) to do art and perform for sick kids.

Of those attending:

Gene Angel (WhiteShepherd) : Me. I was "shepherding" the whole event making sure it happend, setting events, and generally managing flow of events and point of contact for hospital staff.

Kaycy Ruffer (Kada-Ru) : Is a great artist who did some fantastic detailed colored art drawings for many kids.

Anna Angel (Anna) : Anna did face/arm painting for all the kids drawing on them as their favorite animals.

William Mergerthaller III (Swiftwing) : Did some great art for the kids! He is SO possitive and as he drew was helping them learn how to draw for themselves!

Jenifer Langham (Calico Panthra) : Provided support, orginization, and was constantly helping with the kids.

Ron (Brown Leopard) : Was our FANTASTIC fursuiter and WOW what a hit he was with the kids!

Mary Ann Angel (non fur) : Provided support and some native American culture background/games.

Dave Weinkauf (non fur) : Is a respected internationally known film maker who chose to film the whole event!

Serveral furs contributed art and even funds, witch proved extreamly helpful (see website), were donated!

A fuzzy dogs personal take:
Ok, here is this dogs personal take of the whole event. First I have to take a deep breath, relax, and smile. The "Furtopia Arts for Kids Community Project" was a HUGE success and REALLY brightened those kids day!

A few days before the main event I was still scrambling like a mad dog trying to make sure we went into this event organized. Plus, the days right before, if it COULD go wrong it did. Vehicle trouble, our printer refusing to print (wrong copyright release form), our original fursuiter having to back out 24hrs before the event, and a host of other occurences. However, those who know this dog know when I get my teeth into something I don't let go. No matter how bad it gets I work the problem till it's solved. The 19th Kaycy and I did not sleep. We just kept working through the night to make sure all the work and preparations for this event were perfect... and wow what a day.

We all left at 7AM and went to Anna's house. After filling up on caffeine we left for Dayton all proudly wearing our Furtopia t-shirts. It was a nice drive and I think all of us were wondering how it would go. We were talking about many things and in good spirits.

Passing the time, Calico was playing "cute princess of the world" (a good role for her) and we were all playing along. We got there and while the crew waited I ran and found our contact and meet up place.

Our contact, Karen, showed us the play room (where we would be for our first two hours) and we unloaded. We had no time for breakfast so I then bought the crew some cream cheese doughnuts (thanks for donations) while I perked up with a small cup of good coffee. It was then time for the event.

At 10AM it was time and we put our furry project into ACTION! We were in a 14" by 17" play room and kids were coming and going. The best laid plans of dogs don't always go as planned but I can think on my paws. The original plan was to give a well planned intoduction then break the crew into "3" stations. A gaming station, a drawing station, and a face painting station would be set up in the room. Well, there was really no adults to introduce ourselves to so I just got on the floor and throwing away the speech just told the kids a little about us (getting flogged by one kid and in part of a conversation on video games with another ).

I first set out all around the room lots and lots of FANTASTIC kid friendly furry artwork. The artwork was donated by fellow Furtopian artists. We had about 50 diffrent prints with around 3-5 copies of each print. We then let kids look at them and if they saw pictures they really liked they got to keep them to hang in there rooms!

Brown Leopard and I ran the games as we played pictionary with some older kids. It didn't last however as the artists took center stage. The kids flocked to the artists to watch them draw, get drawings, and have animals painted on them. The kids LOVED it and watched with fascination as the original artwork was being created that they would get to keep. We also set out many toys, and stuffed animals, and even beadwork from my adopted moms reservation, all for the kids to take.

Brown Leopard was an AWSOME hit. Especially the younger kids laughed hysterically in glee jumping and touching with curiosity as Brown Leopard moved around and reacted playfully to their reactions. The most touching moment during this event for me was the little girl named Alexia.

Alexia was a 2 year old little girl on chemotherapy for a tumor below her lung. She had lost all her hair, save for a few strands, was extremely thin, and moved very very slow. She also hardly ever spoke. Her nurse pushed her IV for her as this little girl slowly walked and looked around. Alexia was very sick and weak. Nurses in the room tried to offer Alexia some of the toys and pictures. Alexia just pushed them away. She didn't seem to have any enthusiasm or will power for anything. THEN she saw Brown Leopard in his fur suit. She didn't have a lot of strength or energy but you could just see "something" behind her eyes. Like a special light of wonder. You could see the child inside that was missing had come back. With no fear she fraily walked over to Brown Leopard and reached out a thin arm petting his soft fur along his leg. Even though she was shorter than even his knee you could just see the attachment she had for him. Unlike the other kids she didn't seem to get tired of Brown Leopard's attentions. Her hand practically never left this fuzzy cat as she seemed to enjoy petting him so much. From time to time she would slowly lean over to hug. Finally, this little child slowly stepped around and putting up her frail little arms reached up for Brown Leopard to hold her. I tell you it was enough to make you cry your eyes out.... A nurse picked up Alexia and held her to Brown Leopard's face and chest where the little girl hugged him resting her head quietly and hapilly against his. Most of the remaining time Alexia seemed just to be happy standing near Brown Leopard. She liked reaching out and touching his soft fur and despite all the pain and sickness it was something very very good that had triumphed.

By noon we took an hour break for lunch. We then started going to rooms with kids who were too sick to leave. As I kept track of the rooms I moved artists to and from each of the rooms to draw and paint for every kid. While kids were busy Mary and I took gifts of art and beads to the kids which they all seemed to love. By 3PM our day was over. We ended our visit by giving the hospital 10 pieces of framed furry art kids prints (we framed some art from every artist who contributed) for hanging in the rooms for the kids to look at when they stay and a star quilt from the reservation.

It was a FANTASTIC day and "Furtopia Arts for Kids Community Project" was a tremendous success beyond measure. We have been invited back to the hospital and I have decided that this Furtopian project will continue. We will do this at least twice a year of not more.

For all those that weren't able to attend, when the editing is finished, I will be posting the video of this event in a downloadable file.

Cheers fellow Furtopians! WhiteShepherd

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