When actress Lucy Liu was growing up in New York City, her parents, like many, were concerned with her getting a good education.
At home, she focused on math — but while at her New York city public school, she was fixated on art.
“My parents came from another country and they were very concerned with education, and education to them did not include art,” Liu told Metro. “I only had the opportunity to do art and express myself in school.”
She credits art with steering her toward her career. But unfortunately, some students today don’t have that same opportunity.
Since 2008, funding has been cut in more than 80 percent of schools across the country, and the first programs sacrificed are often in the arts.
Liu wants to help bring arts education back. She’s teamed up with LIFEWTR to launch a #BringArtBackToSchools campaign.
On Friday, Liu lent a personal hand to that mission when she visited a group of New York City sixth graders during an art class at Robert Wagner Middle School. She told them about her passion for art and helped the 32 students create a collage.
“They had tons of energy, they were very expressive and very creative, and each of them had the same tools but all of their projects looked completely different,” she said. “They only got to do art once a week, and they expressed how disappointed they were about that, how much they loved doing it.”
More than just entertainment, art is also crucial to a child’s development, and even how they learn other subjects. That’s why she makes sure art is in her son’s life.
“I have a two and a half year old myself, and even at a young age, he’s expressing himself through art,” she said. “It’s nice to give him quiet time do things like that… I think it’s very important to have that form of creativity because it really does formulate and grow your brain.”
Liu left the Robert Wagner students with LIFEWTR art kits so they can continue exploring their creativity, and she’s letting people know they have a chance to get art kits for their schools, as well.
Through the LIFEWTR campaign, you can share your story about how art has had a positive impact on you or someone you know with the hashtag #BringArtBackToSchools and your zip code. LIFEWTR will donate art kits to classrooms in some of these select areas across the country.
LIFEWTR also created a video for the campaign that Liu shared on her Instagram. It shows how free kids are when they’re given art tools, and how adults sometimes struggle with a paintbrush in hand, because they tend to do less and less art as they get older.
“It broke my heart a little bit,” Liu said. “I’ve seen a lot of people I know say ‘I’m not very creative, I’m not an artist.’ It’s not about that. It’s about having that time for yourself… to create, express and use your imagination.”