Last Newtown Site Visit & Volunteer Dinner, March 9–11

The clock is ticking…

It’s hard to believe that we are two weeks away from the start of the Kids Share Newtown workshop! So many great things have taken place since ideas for the workshop first started brewing in December. So many wonderful volunteers have joined our team, at all stages of the planning and preparation, each one stepping up and bringing her own unique talent and enthusiasm. So many hours of work have gone into the Newtown program, and we are super excited to finally bring it to fruition! Reality set in this past weekend at our volunteer dinner, when we realized that this was our last meeting in Newtown before the actual workshop begins! So many months have dwindled to so many days…and we will soon be underway at NYA!


Project photographer Erica Keane (in grey and black stripes) shares her thoughts with the group.

Volunteers’ Dinner: Once again, we must thank the Newtown Youth Academy—this time for hosting our last pre-workshop dinner meeting on Saturday March 9. Another huge “thank you” goes to Family Medical Associates of Ridgefield (and to its employees/KSW volunteers Cathy Loudon and Hillary Abrams)for generating workshop funding that helped provide delicious wraps and pasta from the Sandy Hook Deli!


Delicious wraps and pasta salad from Sandy Hook Deli.


At the meeting, art therapist Mary Hamilton and curriculum director Lauren Lee presented some of the work they had done on the workshop curriculum, which will be refined with the help of Sandy Hook parent Kristen Marshall. Some great ideas from the group will also be worked into the final curriculum.

After a lively discussion, we had settled on four topics that will form the structure of the workshop and ultimately comprise the chapters of our book. Team leaders Hillary, Cathy, Lauren and Jen will each guide a group of children in the creation of artwork and writing on one of these fun and inspiring themes, which will only be revealed once the workshop begins. Stay tuned!

Kids Share Newtown T-Shirts

Thanks for our shirts, Go Promotions!

Kids Share Newtown T-Shirts Are Here! Many thanks to Kris Pfeifer for designing our very cool shirts and Gina Sanderson of Go Promotions for printing them at cost! They look great and we can’t wait to wear them! In fact, we donned them that very night for a group photo (see Volunteers page).


One of Kathy Potter’s books.

Welcome to Our New Illustrator!
On Sunday, March 10, KSW creative director Jennifer Ponte Canning and KSW founder Kristina Applegate met with Katherine Potter, a published children’s book illustrator from New York City who is also an old colleague of Jen’s. Kathy had a chance to see Kristina’s past work in person, and to learn more about the technique used to incorporate kids’ paper art from the workshop into professional illustrations. Kathy was excited to join Kids Share Newtown for this part of the project, and we are equally excited to have her talent (and sparkling personality) at our disposal! Hopefully we’ll see her smiling face at NYA once or twice during the workshop.


Brenda Berta (right) and her friendly pups welcome Kristina to her future temporary home in Ridgefield.

You CAN Go Home Again: Later that afternoon, Kristina and Jen headed to their hometown of Ridgefield, Conn., where Kristina met the family who will graciously host her during the two workshop weeks in April. Brenda and Dan Berta warmly welcomed us into their gorgeous house, which turned out to be located right behind Kristina’s childhood home! Kristina was thrilled to revisit the quarries and ponds where she spent many hours playing as a kid. The Bertas’ children attend Ridgefield High School, where several of us KSW volunteers went as teenagers, and Kristina bonded with Amanda Berta over their shared RHS track team glory. What a blast from the past! Many thanks to the entire Berta family for their generous hospitality!

We’ll Take Manhattan: On Monday, March 11, the KSW directors ventured into New York City to meet with a film industry insider about the possibility of a future documentary featuring Kids Share Workshops. This woman was very interested in the history of Kids Share Workshops and its objectives, as well as how the Kids Share Newtown project came to be. We have not made any formal arrangements at this time. Currently, we are seeking tech-savvy Newtown High School students or other volunteer videographers to simply record our workshop as it unfolds. Time is running out,  so please let us know if you can help!

Sophie Beem gets ready to perform during our visit to her NYC home.

Sophie Beem gets ready to perform during our visit to her NYC home.

Our visit to NYC ended that night with an exceptional home-cooked meal and some musical accompaniment, thanks to Christina Beem and her talented daughter, Sophie. A 13-year-old singer-songwriter who plays guitar and piano, Sophie Beem appeared on “The X Factor” talent competition, where she blew away the judges (including Simon Cowell). We, too, were blown away by her mature, distinct voice and her insightful original songs. Sophie has agreed to perform at a yet-to-be-scheduled event to celebrate publication of the Kids Share Newtown book. Stay tuned, because you definitely don’t want to miss it! In the meantime, listen to Sophie at her website:

And be sure to come back to the Kids Share Newtown website frequently as well! We will be posting updates and photos of the kids’ progress here once our workshop begins on April 2.


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