The Bosque School Art Therapy Society (BATS) is a service-oriented student organization that is making a positive impact on the lives of visually impaired students from Zia Elementary School—and the Bosque School students will be the first to tell you that the Zia Elementary students are making an even greater positive impact on them.
It's been a while since the Bosque School Art Therapy Society has had the opportunity to work with the students at Zia Elementary. In the past, our upper school students would visit Zia several times a year, and Zia's students would visit Bosque School as well. The COVID-19 pandemic put the students' plans on hold for a couple of years, but this year, BATS is excited to be working with Zia's students once again, and they were thrilled to welcome them back to campus during their visit several weeks ago.
The goal of BATS is to move beyond just creating art or working on projects with the children—the Bosque School students really hope they are creating meaningful connections with the younger students. Building that connection began when the Bosque School students made their first visit to Zia Elementary during the fall semester. Before the upper school students could even begin to create activities for the younger students, they needed to understand, at least somewhat, what it feels like to be visually impaired.
The Zia students gave the Bosque students glasses that mimic different types of visual impairments and had them complete everyday tasks while wearing them. “One of the things Zia does that’s really cool with the Bosque kids is they teach them through experience what it’s like to be visually impaired.” Amy Moore, BATS’ faculty advisor, said. “They have to wear these special glasses, and they use the computers to experience using braille. They have to experience being visually impaired themselves before we even start working with kids, so it gives them a sense of what’s going to work when we begin our project and what’s going to be really cool for the kids.”
After their experience using the glasses, the Bosque School students realized some of the projects they had already planned wouldn’t be as fun for the kids as they originally thought. So, they came up with some new ideas and decided that when the Zia Elementary students visited Bosque School in January, they would make Valentine’s Day cards, go on a campus-wide scavenger hunt, and eat a pizza lunch together.
The scavenger hunt really gave the Zia students an idea of what life is like at Bosque. The students stopped by the pond to look for turtles; visited the art department, where they convinced Ms. Custer to create a drawing for them; visited Ms. Maniaci in the strings room and listened to some music; met Ms. Sever’s puppy, Bullet, in the 6th-grade science room; and even managed to track down Dr. Barrie who was more than happy to supply them with a few pieces of candy.
BATS’ student-leaders, Betty Lou ‘23, Emily ‘23, and Emma ‘23, felt that getting to know the elementary school students better and showing them around our own campus was the best part of the day. “It just makes you happy to be around the kids,” said Emma. “They’re just so happy, and then it makes me happy too.”
Ms. Moore agreed. “They [the Zia students] are amazing. They can do anything.”