Back in January, Durango topped another “Top 10 List” with a mention in Sunset magazine’s list of “24 Best Places to Live and Work 2014.”
This recognition gets added to our community award shelf of “Top Ten Western Towns” (True West), “Top 200 Towns” (Outdoor Life), “Top 10 US Travel Destinations” (Lonely Planet), “Best Places to Live” (Men’s Journal), “Best River Towns in America” (Outside) and I’m sure many others I’m missing.
Beyond boasting adventure, natural beauty, history and arts, Durango also tops lists for being a place to raise a family and connect to community. In August, we were included in Huffington Post’s “The Best Places in Colorado for Young Families.”
It may be because I’m entering into motherhood and reading a lot about how to raise a healthy, smart and well-rounded child, but I can’t help but look around Durango and see the multitude of great programs and resources supporting childhood development and our future citizens of the world.
There are many things important to the development of children; but providing opportunities to experience nature and the arts (visual, performing and musical) are often overlooked or seen as secondary necessities. However, exploring these areas as we grow throughout our lives are essential to developing our full potential.
Art in early childhood is a necessity because it builds socio-emotional, cognitive and motor development, and it contributes to the development of autonomy – a sense of self, confidence, intelligence, problem solving and the ability to socially connect to others and avoid or break down stereotypes, racism, sexism and other negative social constructions.
Young children move through a progression of self-exploration and self-growth when they are involved in creating and making art. Kids begin to feel emotional satisfaction of making decisions and the sense of independence with their choices, while expressing how they feel and what they think.
Children’s involvement in art is all about sensory exploration at first, both on the cognitive and motor levels – the sense and ability to move paint, sing, dance and act all at once or how a crayon feels in their hands. Through these activities of relating body and ability to ‘making’ and the world around them, children build an understanding and knowledge of objects, relationships and self-expression.
As a child grows and develops, art morphs beyond just exploring senses and motor skills to figurative imagination, creative thought and symbolism. Art, much like athletics and music, helps children develop and control use of large- and small-muscle groups.
Here at the Durango Arts Center, we’re celebrating the gift and importance of arts in early childhood with our upcoming DAC Applause! production of “Dr. Doolittle, Jr.” on April 4 and the 21st Annual Creativity Festivity: Origins, from April 17 through May 10, which showcases the work of local students in the community and celebrates the important creative work happening in our schools.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Elsa Jagniecki is the marketing coordinator for the Durango Arts Center.