Education is a fundamental element of a child’s life, which provides children with the tools needed to help them develop the character needed for a successful life. Art is often an overlooked subject, deemed as a hobby, and most people will look past its benefits in a child’s development. Tim and Peanut Harper, co-founders of Harper for Kids, understood the significant impact that art could have on children’s development and have broadened their Character Education program to include an art initiative. This creates a new and exciting avenue for teaching the importance of good character.
Founded in 2008, Harper for Kids (HFK) was built on the foundation of legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success.” HFK’s enrichment programs were designed to not only help children develop good character but also inspire the adults in the children’s lives to become better role models of essential core, ethical values, and help foster a healthy community.
“The mission of Harper for Kids is to teach the youth essential character traits that can help them achieve their personal best in life,” said co-founder Tim Harper. “We felt it was really important to continue Coach Wooden’s teachings and introduce his philosophy of success and Pyramid of Success to as many children, parents, and educators as possible.”
In the 2020-2021 school year, to better engage the students during their online learning, HFK added their Pyramid of Success Art Zooms. This novel and interactive art lesson plan teaches students key life skills while teaching them how to be artists. This was a natural progression since Tim Harper is an accomplished artist and loves sharing his passion for art with the students.
“Art will expand children’s ability to interact with the world and others around them and provide a new set of skills for self-expression and communication,” explained Tim. “Not only does art help to develop the right side of the brain, but it also cultivates important skills that benefit a child’s development, problem-solving, social-emotional skills, and creativity.” Art Education contributes to developing critical thinking, social, and motivational skills that are considered basic for success in school, work, and life.
To help deepen the students’ knowledge on Coach John Wooden and his Pyramid of Success, the first art class with all of the schools was drawing a portrait of him with one of his famous sayings, “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece.” “We wanted to emphasize to the students to try your best each and every day, and to make every day count. What an inspiring way to introduce Coach Wooden and his life philosophy to the students,” says Harper.
4th grade teacher Miss Lisa Moe truly values the art lessons for her students and said, “The Pyramid of Success Art Zooms have truly been a way for my students to engage, grow in confidence, nurture their creativity, and really support their journey in defining what it means to be their ‘personal best.’ These classes give each one of my Scholars an opportunity to create something that is truly their own. These last few years of education have not been an easy journey…but having the Pyramid of Success as a guide has allowed myself, as an educator, and my Scholars to take on these challenges with a smile and enthusiasm. Whether my class is in our classroom together or distance learning from our individual homes, these experiences support a positive, growth-mindset classroom culture and brings us all together in the best ways possible.”
When asked what they learned from the flower drawing art class, 5th grade teacher Miss Kristine Kim had this to say: “Mistakes will make you better. You don’t have to be perfect to be successful. Work hard to develop your skill. Never let anyone put you or your art down, your art is how you want it to be. Always try your best, that is success.”
Initially, Harper for Kids started as a partnership with a single school in 2010, but since then, it has grown to more than over 70 K-12 schools, reaching over 25,000 students a year. With Harper for Kids reaching its 14th year, Tim and Peanut Harper are so excited to add this new program using art as a vehicle to help the students build a strong foundation of character that will pave the way for a successful future.