“Components of an Arts Education and Student Wellness Ecosystem”


The Arts Education Coalition


Considering education as an ecosystem — rather than a single, independent system or agency — recognizes the interconnections between environments within and outside of schools that impact student well-being. When included as a key part of the wellness ecosystem, the arts can provide opportunities for students to express themselves and their emotions, build relationships with peers and mentors, and process and heal from trauma.


Our new resource, Components of an Arts Education and Student Wellness Ecosystem, provides an overview of policies and actions at the local, state and federal levels that impact the health of this ecosystem and collaboration across agencies. It is designed to be a conversation starter, and the 10 Questions for Reflection and Action can help you further explore this vision for your community.


The source of this article is “The Arts Education Coalition,” which is modeled on the SC Arts in Basic Curriculum Project (a.k.a. ABC Project). The ABC Project began in SC during Governor Richard Riley’s tenure in office in SC. The Governor, a champion of the arts, of education, and of arts education, had in his field of vision two extraordinary SC arts education leaders. The co-founders of the highly successful ABC Project in SC during the 1980s worked closely with Governor Riley and the state legislature to see that SC students’ education included comprehensive, high-quality arts experiences from kindergarten through graduation.

In the 1990s during the Bill Clinton administration, not only was Governor Riley appointed US Secretary of Education, but also these two arts education leaders served in national positions–Ms. Scott Shanklin-Peterson at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Dr. Terry Peterson at the US Department of Education (USDoE). During that time, the leadership provided by these three SC visionaries helped to form the “Arts Education Partnership” for the nation, which brought together stakeholders from around the state to work together for the benefit of all the arts in education and to advocate for world-class standards in the arts. SC has a special attachment to the mission and work of AEP. Many of us who work in the arts education arena in SC and with the ABC Project still support the work of the AEP and are pleased to share it with others.


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