Pasting Up Creativity And Self-Esteem

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Scrapbooking frees children's creativity and reinforces self-esteem said Brenda Martell, co-owner of Paper and Metal Scrappers.

"When (children) scrapbook, it's like they are reinforcing the experience and feeling good about it all over again," said Martell.

In a world full of television, video games and movies, the creative side of our brains can get neglected.

When parents look at the scrapbook their child has created, it can give them a window into that child's world -- what is important to the child is right there on the page. It can open a conversation that will breach the generation gap. A child doesn't care that the picture of their cousin was blurry, only that the cousin was making a goofy face.

Scrapbooking is not about perfection, it is about being human.

Creativity starts with a crayon and evolves according to Martell.

When 8- and 9-year-olds take classes, their project doesn't have to look like the girl's sitting next to them.

"It only takes you or I to say, ‘Wow, that's really neat and they are just beaming and feeling wonderful."

Martell has seen an increase in motor skills and an eye for color in the 9- through 11-year-olds -- the "tween" generation.

"If they can look at the world with an eye that sees more than the obvious then they are going to be better off," Martell said.

Many teenage girls scrapbook -- whether they glue photos and memorabilia in a book, stick them on a bulletin board or put memories around their mirrors. They save everything -- movie stubs, programs, candy bar wrappers -- that in a moment meant something. For teenage girls, saving and preserving the memories of today is quite natural because many understand that these moments will slip away said Martell.

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Sisters Janice and Lydia Galister work on handmade cards. The two are participating in one of Paper and Metal Scrappers "make and take Tuesdays."

Martell's daughter saved a water bottle wrapper. It was a brand of water she had never seen.

"She and a friend shared the water on a trip. So that label became important."

Sophomore Janice Galister said her friend Amy got her hooked on scrapbooking.

"I love it! It's so much fun!" Her current project is to put her camp pictures in a book.

Scrapbooking is also social.

"They are talking about themselves, the world and their values...," Martell said. "They are talking about who they are interested in and what they're interested in... much like what I think must have happened in the old quilting bee days when women would gather."

Teens lift each other up when they comment on how they liked what a friend did on her project.

"That immediately is a compliment," Martell said. "It becomes a cycle that really does make them feel better about themselves."

Martell believes the two most important scrapbooking rules she can impress upon her students are using archival, acid-free products so the pictures last as long as possible, and leaving space for journal entries.

"Tell me why that picture was important to you? What were you doing?"

Martell said she looks at pictures from her own past that she didn't journal about and has no idea what she is doing.

"I think that scrapbooking makes it easier for (people, especially teenagers) to deal with the struggles and the inevitable failures," Martell said. "Let's face it, we all are going to have failures as we go through our school and jobs and life. So if they can feel good about this one little thing, that is going to help them get through the struggles they may have tomorrow."

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