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‘Art with Ian’ connects grandparents with kids in England, Singapore

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artwithian_thumb-2.jpgThe pandemic forced the Baycrest Foundation to postpone events that normally bring our supporters together. Realizing the importance of reducing isolation and staying connected amid the turmoil of a pandemic, another way was found to keep in touch.
Almost as quickly as you could say the word Zoom, a series of virtual, interactive events was planned to help fill the void.
“Art with Ian,” facilitated by the Baycrest Foundation’s very own Ian Leventhal, an accomplished artist, was first out of the gate. An online class in early April was an illuminating show-and-tell on the creation of self-portraits.  
A second event guided participants in a family-friendly activity: creating portrait puppets and paper chains. Toronto resident Francie Kendal took part and looped in her five-year-old granddaughter, who lives in England.
“Thank you for the session,” Kendal wrote in an email afterwards. “[My granddaughter] Zoomed in today from London, we waved to each other on Gallery View and then WhatsApp’d afterward to show each other our paper chains. Hers was much better than mine! It was fun and I’m glad to say she really enjoyed it.”
The third instalment took place before Mother’s Day and focused on the art of crafting pop-up flower cards. Evy Eisenberg reached out to granddaughters, ages eight and nine, in Singapore.
“There is a 12-hour time difference between Singapore and Toronto and when I saw your advertisement for the art classes I decided to try and do this with my granddaughters,” she said.
“We did two sessions together – the one with the chain figures and the other with the Mother’s Day card…. I live alone and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed learning how to do it and finally implementing it with my granddaughters! They enjoyed it and I think I even enjoyed it more.”
“It was a great way for me to connect with them and it kept me busy! And it kept my mind off of being alone here! Thank you Baycrest.”
Despite the need to be physically distanced from our loved ones, the video series has given everyone an opportunity to get more “crafty” in how they relate to each other, Leventhal said.
Jessica Taylor, Rafi Yablonsky and Nader Masoudi supervised the logistics, along with Renee Leventhal, Ian’s wife, who ran the camera for the at-home events.
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