'Sometimes when I'm stressed, art makes me feel better': Arts Bus delivering craft supplies to kids

"The thing that I'm doing is empowering joy and authentic self-expression through the arts."


Genny Albert has been driving a green bus — the Arts Bus — and running a nonprofit that's been bringing creativity to kids in rural Vermont communities for the past decade.

"I'm the bus driver. I'm the grant writer. I'm a teacher. I'm an 'encouragementor', and the executive director," she said.

"The thing that I'm doing is empowering joy and authentic self-expression through the arts."

Normally students would board the rolling classroom and experiment with crafts, drama and music.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Albert knew she'd have to get creative to keep the bus' mission alive.

"We literally spent $5,000 as fast as possible," said Albert.

Through donations, she's been able to make 1,000 craft kits filled with a variety of arts supplies to donate to several communities.

That's how second-grader Delyla Fahnestock is able to continue making colorful crafts.

"Sometimes when I'm stressed, art makes me feel better," she said.

Albert dropped off more than 150 kits that will be going on yellow school buses, to be dropped off with free lunches this week.

"Early on we got feedback from a lot of our families that they don't have the (art) supplies at home. So this will be a welcome surprise," said Bethel Elementary School Principal Andra Bowen.

Art educators said the kits will be important as kids continue to cope with remote learning.

"It's really good for mental health to do things that are just relaxing and feel good," said Bethel Elementary School art teacher Malia Timmerman.

"(The) arts are what is going to get us through these dark times. We can all sing a song and have a dance party," said Bethel Elementary School music teacher Carrie Coho.

Coho's father donated the now 26-year-old yellow school bus to the Arts Bus, which he helped create in memory of his late wife, who was also a music teacher.

Albert hopes her efforts are helping to create a legacy of kindness and a legacy of giving for the organization.

The whole point of the bus, she said, is to make students smile.

"(The students are) the heroes of the future. (They're) the artists of the future. (They're) the ones that are going to inspire us," she said.

The art kits are a source of inspiration, delivered with love, from Miss Genny.