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Students Create Portraits for Children in Cameroon
Kenna Wrage
High school students and teachers from 12 local school districts participated in the Memory Project this year by creating 31 portraits of children living in Cameroon.
 
Participants included Devlin Maynard and Makyla Withrow of Green; Emily Cram, Isabella Fitch, and Kenna Wrage of Minford; Gavin Blevins, Addi Crace, Sadie Craft, Ms. Mary Hess, Jadelyn Lawson, Rachel McGlone, and Makenna Wright of New Boston; Riley Galloway, Kloe Montgomery, Trista Montgomery, Carson Ruby, Koryn Taylor, and Rachel Throckmorton of Northwest; Alia Ali and Katherine Nelson of Notre Dame; Brianna Lodwick of Oak Hill; Kyndal Kearns of Portsmouth; Shay Newsome of Sciotoville Community; Ms. Kate Claxon and Leia Lynn of South Webster; Olivia Hilton, Emilie Johnson, Ms. Kelly Montgomery, and Rebecca Morgan of Valley; Kim Stanley of West; and Amanda Salmons of Wheelersburg. 
 
 The Memory Project is coordinated locally by Sharee Price, Gifted Services Coordinator at the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center, in New Boston, Ohio.
 
 The Memory Project is dedicated to promoting intercultural awareness, friendship, and kindness between children around the world through the universal language of art. “I always look forward to seeing the portraits the students and their teachers create and am impressed with the quality of the work they produce,” Price said. “Completing the portraits near the Christmas holiday truly embodies the spirit of giving to others during this special time of year.”

 The Memory Project is a national project that was founded by Ben Schumaker in 2004 and has involved over 300,000 youth in the programs it provides. It is a unique initiative in which art students create original portraits for children who have been abandoned, orphaned, abused or neglected and who don’t normally have keepsakes of their childhood. The project strives to give them something precious they can keep and to give them a sense of self-worth, knowing that someone cared enough to take the time to create a portrait of them. Local high school art students receive photographs of children who are waiting for portraits, then work in their art classrooms to create the portraits. The portraits are delivered to the children and a video is made of the event. 

 "We are deeply grateful to art students and teachers from Scioto County for their heartfelt dedication to these efforts. With help from Ms. Sharee Price, we've been fortunate to have art students from your area schools involved for the past 15 years, creating special portraits for 385 children in 14 countries. Even in the pandemic, when so many schools around the country canceled their participation, Scioto County schools stuck with us.  We're tremendously thankful for that,” commented Schumaker.
The portraits will be delivered to the children in Cameroon in early 2022. “It is our hope that this worthy project which enriches the lives of so many children in other countries will continue for many years to come”, Price said.