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10-Year-Old Girl Sends Art Kits To Kids In Crisis During Pandemic

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The coronavirus pandemic has made it hard for children to just be children - schools, play dates, field trips, now summer camps all in a kind of timeout. Chelsea Phaire from Danbury, Conn., is 10 years old, and she's filling the time by using her imagination.

CHELSEA PHAIRE: I've been making a graphic novel I call "Bubble Pop Princess."

SIMON: "Bubble Pop Princess," an intergalactic hero who uses water, fire, earth and air to fight cosmic evil. It sounds epic all on its own, but Chelsea Phaire also runs a charity. She makes it possible for other youngsters to draw, paint and create, too. Every week, Chelsea Phaire puts together dozens of art kits.

CHELSEA: In each art kit are crayons, colored pencils, markers, smocks, paint, paint brushes, canvases, booklets and sketch pads. I have made more than 2,000 kits in total. Since the pandemic started, we have definitely doubled how many kits we've been making.

SIMON: With the help of her parents, Chelsea mails these kits to children who are in crisis, sending them to homeless shelters, foster care agencies and hospitals. Chelsea says she knows how art can help when you're hurting.

CHELSEA: When my grandpa died and I was 4, I had drawn him a picture, and I had made him a little card, and I folded it up very small, and I put it in his pocket when I was at his funeral. And ever since then, I've used art to help me get through tough times.

SIMON: Her effort to share the healing power of art started a little over a year ago. It is now officially named Chelsea's Charity.

CHELSEA: I came up with the idea of sending art kits to people because a family friend two years ago gave me a very elaborate art kit, and my mom told me that everyone didn't have these things and that I should be grateful and try not to break the crayons. I couldn't understand why everyone didn't have access to kits like these, so I wanted everyone to be able to have art supplies so they could express themselves.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CHELSEA: It is important for people to express themselves because we can't keep our feelings bottled up. Like my mom's friend Miss Noba (ph) says, feelings are like farts - better out than in.

SIMON: Miss Noba sounds like a very wise soul.

The pandemic has kept Chelsea Phaire from personally delivering her art kits to children who need them, so she's found other ways to connect.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHELSEA: Hello, everyone. Today, we're interviewing Miss Brianya (ph). She's our special guest on Chats With Chelsea. Woo.

SIMON: She hosts weekly talks with artists on Instagram Live.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHELSEA: And I think she's from Italy.

BRIANYA: How are you, Mama?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CHELSEA: It's been almost a year since the charity got started. I am very happy with how much progress we've made and how much we've grown. We get a lot of donations. The people donating are complete strangers from all over the world. My goal for the next year for the charity is to deliver Chelsea's art kits to every single state. I hope art will help other people express themselves and help them get through tough times like art has helped me do.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: That's Chelsea Phaire from Danbury, Conn. She is the founder of Chelsea's Charity.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.