My name is Jen Kulik and I'm the Founder and CEO of Silver Kite Community Arts.
I grew up in Iowa, in a family that ate dinner together every night, and went to church services every Sunday.
In many ways it was an idyllic childhood, with lots of laughter, card games, and fun.
During the summer I turned 11, however, everything changed. During that summer I was diagnosed with alopecia universalis - and I lost most of the hair on my head.
The lost of my hair was surprising and devastating - I was mortified, embarrassed, depressed.
I needed help and support but I didn't know how to ask for it or was too afraid to show my vulnerability to my friends and family.
Starting a new school that fall was really difficult for me. I endured daily bouts of bullying - laughter, name calling, being tripped, etc. - which left me sad and exhausted, feeling like I didn't have a friend in the world.
The bullying lasted for the majority of the next seven years. As I and my classmates grew older the taunting lessened, but there were still whispers, questions, and laughter.
Years after I emerged from this difficult period in my life, I began to reflect on how I was able to get through it... Somehow, despite the constant bullying, I was able to rebuild my self-confidence, do well in school, build a strong group of friends, and avoid falling into unhealthy relationships with food, alcohol, or drugs.
What I discovered surprised me. My participation in drama classes and performances at our local community theatre, the Des Moines Playhouse, seemed to be the medicine I needed to rebuild my emotional health.
Being involved in drama classes allowed me to feel heard, build unique friendships, gain self-confidence through performance, and foster empathy for myself and for others through character studies, collaboration, play, and storytelling.
After realizing how the arts helped and healed me, I dedicated my life to discovering new ways to use the arts to help others.
What resulted from many years of schooling, exploration, and experimentation is Silver Kite Community Arts, LLC.
Silver Kite is a unique company which designs and facilitates life changing intergenerational arts experiences, arts programs for older adults, dementia friendly arts programs, and supports communities develop their own intergenerational programs through professional development and consulting.
Silver Kite's unique and heart-warming style invites participants (back) into participating in the arts by using life stories as a basis for art-making, encouraging creative play and laughter to encourage relationship building, eliminating loneliness, breaking down age stereotypes, and fostering.
We create arts that change lives. Join us, and soar with Silver Kite!
Founder & CEO
Silver Kite Community Arts, LLC