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creative zone

Community Outreach Program


Activity: The Blank Park Zoo will be creating seed balls as part of their Plant.Grow.Fly conservation initiative. These balls are made of organic clay and contain native Iowa prairie seeds that can be planted to create more habitat for Iowa pollinators.

The Blank Park Zoo is Iowa's only AZA-accredited zoo. Home to over 2,000 animals, they strive to protect endangered animals at home and abroad and educate the community on the importance of wildlife preservation. Their mission is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world through conservation, education, research, and recreation.


Activity: Who do you want to be when you grow up? Participants will be given straws, beads, and pipe cleaners to create a physical representation of who they want to be or who they are.

The mission of Boys2Men Youth Programs is to help equip minority youth and families with the tools necessary to successfully complete elementary school, transition into middle school, and assist families in addressing delinquent behaviors that might lead the youth into the juvenile justice system.


Activity: Spread the Kindness with the Central Iowa Shelter & Services by Painting Kindness Rocks. Participants can paint rocks with motivational and kind sayings or fun designs on them. After the Festival, the rocks will either help create a rock garden to bring an inspiring and warm welcome to anyone who walks through Central Iowa Shelter & service doors, or they will be shared in random spots to brighten someone's day along the way.

Central Iowa Shelter & Services' (CISS) mission is to provide low-barrier shelter, meals, and supportive services at no cost to adults experiencing homelessness and to facilitate their move toward self-sufficiency.


Activity: Join the Decoding Dyslexia T-shirt Design Contest. Participants will design their own t-shirts on a piece of paper. The winning design will be chosen for recognition and featured in the organization’s online store.

Decoding Dyslexia – Iowa is a group of parents that are passionate about literacy and making it attainable for all people. They focus on dyslexia and how to identify and remediate it. They also focus on education of dyslexia of parents, teachers, and the community. Their goal is to continue educating all on dyslexia and helping our schools better educate their students with dyslexia.


Activity: Participants will have the opportunity to do coloring, painting or glittering on pages that have either WELCOME or HELLO written in one of the main languages of Iowa's immigrants such as Vietnamese, Spanish, Swahili, Arabic, Burmese, and more. When people are done coloring their page, they can have their picture taken with it in front of an IOWA IS FOR EVERYONE backdrop.

The mission of Des Moines Refugee Support is to identify and bridge gaps for refugee families, in particular refugee children, as they establish their new lives in Iowa. The volunteer led organization runs three concurrent programs: Support, getting basics to families, Engagement, assisting with activities and sports and Empowerment, working with teenagers to get their driver's licenses, finding part-time jobs, and applying for college.


Activity: Be the writer of your own story at Everybody Wins! Iowa. Participants can create their own story or color a bookmark. Children will also be able to spin a wheel and answer questions related to a children’s book. If they answer correctly and win a special reading sticker!

Everybody Wins! Iowa (EWI) is a children’s literacy and mentoring nonprofit dedicated to ensuring children’s success in school and life through weekly one-to-one read aloud experiences with caring adults. Through these ongoing, weekly Power Read sessions, elementary students in the program use reading as a vehicle to develop their social and emotional learning, build positive relationships with their mentors, and practice reading in a safe setting, which prepares them for better engagement and success in school. By providing students with these read-aloud experiences, students increase their enthusiasm and engagement in reading, and are better prepared to get the most out of their classroom learning experiences.


Activity: Get Creative with Girls Rock! Des Moines. Participants can either make custom, temporary tattoos, or create their own personalized button.

Since 2013, Girls Rock! Des Moines has been empowering girls, gender-expansive, nonbinary, and trans youth through music education, innovative workshops, and performance opportunities.


Activity: Add some color to nature with Iowa Bird Rehabilitation. Guests have the opportunity to create a baby bird's nest with their own creative twist.

Iowa Bird Rehabilitation (IBR) is a central Iowa wildlife rehabilitation center that provides care for songbirds, waterfowl, gamebirds, shorebirds, and small raptors. Currently, there is no other organization in central Iowa that provides the same unique benefits they offer to both the community and nature. They serve the Des Moines Metro area and beyond, providing wild bird education and rescue assistance to residents across the state. Since its founding in 2012, IBR has taken in over 7,000 birds, admitting over 1,600 birds in 2021 alone.


Activity: If you're in a mood to grove come over to the Iowa Dance Theater where you can decorate your body and participate in an on-site dance party. Guests can also move over, under and through a creative stretch fabric obstacle course.

Iowa Dance Theatre is a non-profit dance organization committed to facilitating creative collaborations between choreographers and dancers and producing dance productions for Iowans. They provide a three-performance season for the young dancers to hone their emerging performing skills and for the local adult dancer to continue to find a place in the dance. Their aim is to provide opportunities for dancers to gain on-stage experience as well as attend workshops.


Activity: Guests may choose from a colorful assortment of pre-cut butterflies and place it within a giant community heart. Once placed, guests have the opportunity to have a butterfly painted on their face.

As Iowa’s sole organ procurement organization, the Iowa Donor Network facilitates both organ and tissue recovery and serve as the state’s primary contact for organ, tissue and eye donation. They strive to provide the best possible care to their donor families, facilitate the recovery of organs and tissues, educate the communities they serve and support special events to promote donation throughout Iowa. To fulfill their mission, they collaborate with the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, healthcare professionals and organizations statewide to honor the gift of life. Their vision is for all to be inspired to donate life.


Activity: Design and create your own motion picture booklet. Guests can create an animated flipbook with a blank booklet and colored pencils, drawing an image on each page to create the illusion of a motion picture. Guest an also snap photos in front of a special green screen.

The Iowa Motion Picture Association is a nonprofit, 501(c)3, organization that encourages and supports Iowa media production through education, networking and the produces the annual Iowa Motion Picture Association Awards which promotes the best of Iowa media arts and artists.


Activity: King Lear could not let someone else take his crown! Stop by the Iowa Stage booth and decorate a crown worth keeping. Iowa Stage Theatre Company will provide sequins, ribbon, fun tape, and more for participants to decorate their own personalized crowns.

Iowa Stage Theatre Company transforms Iowa, its citizens, and arts community by producing truthful, relevant, and intimate theatre that inspires, enlightens, and entertains.


Activity: Spread the Love with Please Pass the Love. Participants have the opportunity to decorate their own poster with empowering words or phrases to promote mental health. After creating their poster, guests will pose for a portrait in the photography station. All portraits will be used in a video for the Paint the State with Love Movement and shared online to break the mental health stigma and provide community support.

Please Pass the Love is a non-profit organization committed to increasing school mental health (SMH) to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities for children, families, and educators. They offer culturally responsive comprehensive services and evidence-based supports to school systems. Please Pass the Love stives to bridge positive relationships between the educational and mental health communities while effectively addressing mental health issues for children and adolescents throughout Iowa.


Activity: Discover Shadow Art at the Science Center of Iowa booth. Participants will use a variety of materials to create diverse types of art using shadows. Youth can explore different objects that have varying amounts of transparency, translucence, and opaqueness.

The Science Center of Iowa engages and inspires a love of science on-site and across the state.


Activity: The Sunny Porch will provide ink pads, oil pastels, stickers and wax crayons with a watercolor wash for guests to use in their exploration of mixed media as they create their own art journal.

The Sunny Porch mission is to eliminate the stigmas of mental illness and educate the public about living with mental illness. They provide educational materials to build awareness about brain health, suicide and overdose prevention, substance use disorder and general mental well-being. They promote the arts as a therapeutic outlet, hold an annual art exhibition to benefit artists, and implement programs such as mental health art workshops on college campuses.


Activity: Learn to design your own shirt! With the help of the Supply Hive Volunteers, guests can create and spray paint their own t-shirt. The Supply Hive will provide all the tools to help guests create unique designs.

The Supply Hive mission is to provide a space of nourishment through extraordinary times to promote leaders in local communities. They engage the community by ensuring people's essential needs are met through their physical, mental, and spiritual health.


Activity: Create your own comic strips starring different superheroes. While creating a comic strip participants will have the opportunity to explore which superpower they would like to have. These superpowers can be a segue into a discussion about self-esteem, confidence, and what it means to overcome bullying.

Victory Kid Sports Foundation INC mission is to impact kids through sports. This is accomplished by teaching and demonstrating teamwork, discipline, and fun. Mentoring and social-emotional support aid our efforts to empower the whole child to grow into confident young adults. Victory’s Foundation serves children who come from a variety of diverse backgrounds, and underrepresented populations, as well as those exposed to substance abuse, addiction, homelessness, in-transition, and poverty. Many of these children come from homes where there are daily struggles. We will model perseverance, integrity, and resilience through our foundation.


Activity: Be a part of something greater with the YMCA of Greater Des Moines. Located at this booth will be a paint-by- numbers community-focused mural to highlight youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Each community outreach booth visitor will be provided with a paintbrush and paint and asked to paint a specific number(s) within the mural. Community members will come together throughout the Des Moines Arts Festival to finish the mural(s), and the finished mural(s) will be displayed at various branch locations throughout the YMCA of Greater Des Moines.

The YMCA of Greater Des Moines is a cause-driven organization committed to nurturing the potential of children through Youth Development, improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities by promoting Healthy Living, and fostering a sense of Social Responsibility by providing support and inspiring action in our society. Guided by our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility, the Y is dedicated to giving people of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life the opportunity to reach their full potential with dignity.

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