Bag painting: A simple way to connect city and suburban children


Swarthmore and Chester: three and a half miles distant, but it can be like a hundred miles to children growing up in those two communities. How to bridge that gap between city and suburban worlds?

The Swarthmore Presbyterian Church and Chester Eastside, Inc., came up with a simple but ingenious way: bringing children from the respective communities together to decorate bags that would be used to supply families with the essentials at the Chester Eastside Food

Center.  “Those bags will be distributed during the week before Easter week,”

said CEI’s Executive Director, Rev. Zuline Wilkinson. “Colorful bags represent the hopefulness that comes with spring.

Not sermons on race and class. Not self-conscious discussions about difference. Just bring those children together to work on a joint project. Bring them together, furthermore, at the site where food is distributed twice a week. For the children at Swarthmore Presbyterian, maybe

for the first time ever, there’s something about being there that makes issues like hunger a little less abstract.
As for the Chester children, meeting up with a group of peers from what is in many ways another world is in itself an important learning experience. And what better tool than taking paints and markers and creating something new?

To learn about other new initiatives at CEI and how you can become a ‘change agent’ in support of them, check out

By timmreardon