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by Jeri Dayle


As parents, we're often asked to contribute not only art staples like markers, glue and crayons; but also paper bags, plates and various materials for classroom projects. When that happened to Barbara Randall, it inspired her to help develop a unique solution to the lack of art supplies in our city's schools. The resulting program, BID FOR KIDS, has been a boon to the environment, by keeping fabric, buttons and trims out of our landfills. But it's been an even bigger boon to our children - encouraging creative expression, fostering teamwork, and teaching them about a major New York City industry of which they might not have been aware. BID FOR KIDS was launched three years ago by the Fashion Center's Business Improvement District (BID), a group dedicated to improving New York City's fashion district through a variety of marketing, economic development, business improvement and public/environmental safety initiatives. The district, which extends from 35th to 41st Streets, and Sixth through Ninth Avenues, is mostly comprised of fashion designers, manufacturers and contractors. BID FOR KIDS is a self-sufficient BID unit run by a staff of three. According to Barbara Randall, who now directs the program, it is "an important effort by the fashion industry and its rising stars." The program works as follows: a team of fashion designers develops and conducts a curriculum specific to each classroom. The curriculum focuses on art and design, yet several educational by-products - including research, reading, mathematics and history - are program components. During the six-week program, children research particular historic periods or ethnic cultures, and under the direction of a design volunteer, outfit two-dimensional mannequins appropriately. According to Randall, the results - 21 different mannequins - made a dazzling display, well-received by all who visited the lobby of 1411 Broadway this fall. To date, more than 200 New York City children in grades 3 through 9 have benefited from BID FOR KIDS. Last spring, participating schools included P.S. 86 in the Bronx, P.S. 205 and 120 of Brooklyn, P.S. 140 and Wadleigh of Manhattan, and I.S. 145 in Queens. The spring 1998 design team included Feroze Alam, Vincent Falls, Deborah Moissinac, Carolyn Ritterbrush, Alfonso Suarez, and Aitim Turnbull, and was headed by Joy Suarez of Jerry Joy Music. Due to their efforts, the seven participating schools were able to augment their stock of art materials and enrich their arts education programming without incurring any expense. BID's six-week 1999 program will premiere in 12 more New York City schools in the coming months. For additional information, call (212) 764-9600.

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