Modern childhood is replete with complex toys, activities and schedules. So it’s interesting that the simple act of coloring still attracts children today.
Melody Wilson, secretary of the Middletown Borough, Pennsylvania, Kiwanis Club, seemed to know that when she decided to take on a service project to create hundreds of coloring books for area children.
Wilson had been contacted by the Middletown Police Department with a request for her club to provide the coloring books for kids at the community's annual Christmas celebration in nearby Hoffer Park. When she calculated costs, Wilson realized it would be less expensive to make the books, rather than buy them.
“Down to the basement!” as Melody is fond of saying, is a reference to her call-to-action to work on a Kiwanis project after the club's business meetings in her home. Using a template, the club designed simple illustrations that young children could easily color and that appeal to both boys and girls. Once the pages were printed, members had fun assembling the sheets into books.
The books were an instant success at the Christmas celebration and have been in demand ever since. Hundreds of books were donated to Caitlin’s Smiles, a charity that distributes arts and crafts kits to hospitals. Providing books for area elementary schools keep the Middletown Kiwanians busy as well.
“Doing simple activities, such as coloring with children, tends to open children up to more dialogue," says Jessica Hoopes, Fink Elementary School first-grade teacher. "When they open up more, they're willing to share more of their thoughts.”
“The thing that surprised me the most," says Wilson, "was that kids as old as 14 asked for the coloring books. I couldn’t believe it. 'We just like to color,' they'd say."
“Kids are kids. We try to hit all of them," Wilson says. — Laura Neidig