Upper Dauphin high schoolers raise money for children’s museum through ‘Step Up’ public art project

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ELIZABETHVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Upper Dauphin Area High schoolers are using their talents to raise money for a local children’s museum. Their public art project called “Step Up” has been in the works for over a year and is ending with a big auction this weekend.

The fundraiser is huge for the Lykens Valley Children’s Museum in Elizabethville, which just opened in 2018 and is run by all volunteers.

“We are stepping up to giving back,” said Emily Nell, the art and humanities teacher at Upper Dauphin Area High School.

The students are stepping up with the stroke of a brush, by painting shoes and writing stories.

“My artist was Roy Lichtenstein and he is a creator of a style of pop art,” said Katy Engle, a senior at Upper Dauphin Area High School.

“The caterpillar, who once thought her life was over, opened up her wings and took flight,” Upper Dauphin Area High School Junior Trinity Mummert recites the poem she wrote for Step Up. “Basically what it’s about is being able to push through the hardest of times and finding the positivity.”

It’s all part of a public art project that’s kindling conversation about the master artists students modeled their shoes after and the character traits they wrote about.

Pairs of colorful sneakers and inspiring poems have been on display at 17 local businesses since March.

“We actually have this map to adventure,” said Nell, who created Step Up. “We want to drive people into the local businesses.”

That drive has been a community effort. Even the pedestals the shoes and stories sit on were created by the high school’s cabintry crew.

This Sunday, students will be celebrated with a red carpet gala, before an auction at the Ned Smith Center in Millersburg.

Writings will be on display and shoes will be sold.

Profits go to the Lykens Valley Children’s Museum, which has been working to do big things on a tight budget.

“Enable us to become a ‘Museum for All’ museum, hopefully in the fall of this year,” said Lisa Ditty, the executive director and a co-founder of the Lyken’s Valley Children’s Museum. “What that means is we will be able to reduced admission for families with SNAP benefits, because we want to reach everybody.”

The high schoolers say they’re thrilled to help give local kids an affordable, safe place to spark their creativity.

“Children are the foundation of our world,” said Mummert.

“Letting all of that money come in to benefit children that live around here so that they get the opportunity to learn is just absolutely amazing,” said Engle.

The Step Up website includes all of the students work, plus information about the gala and auction.

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