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Social Fun For The Young: Duenas Leading The Way
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Students of all ages and interests gather each month to meet friends and get creative at a new local art class/social event. Photo Contributed
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Yvonne Duenas has her mother Esther Brown as her faithful assistant at a new monthly art class/social gathering for local youngsters. Photo Contributed

Yvonne Duenas has a long-time love of art. Creating beautiful things which bring her joy.

She also has a love for children, young students in search of things to do.

Recognizing a void by way of kids being able to resume gathering post-COVID, the art enthusiast launched Kids Social presented by Yvonne Duenas. The once-a-month event is geared toward all ages and with the help of Mountain Mike’s Pizza in Oakdale, they are able to host the event in the back room.

“The goal of it, the hope is to just bring kids together. Maybe they don’t have a group that they belong to,” she said.

She noted the effects of COVID changed the dynamics of many households, including witnessing a big change in her boys, ages 12 and 14, in terms of their social skills and ability to adapt.

“I wanted to have an activity to draw people in. The hope is to just bring them together,” she said of the overall goal.

The next event will be hosted on Friday, Jan. 6 at 6 p.m. at Mountain Mike’s. There is no charge for crafting or craft supplies.

“I’m not a non-profit or anything like that. I’m just a normal mom,” Duenas shared, noting a large of assortment of crafting items she’s happy to share with the group.

To date they’ve hosted an average of 12 students per session.

By offering the event at Mountain Mike’s in the back room, the parents may purchase dinner for the kids; Duenas provides supplies for whatever chosen activity the students will do, and the gathering is hosted from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

January’s program will focus on Vision Boards. This exercise allows the kids to decide what they want to do work on, do or achieve, and then talk about it to the group.

“I love art.” the organizer added. “The event is free. I just want to do it for the kids.”

To build an interest in the monthly events, Duenas has relied on social media and word of mouth. She admitted that, for some parents, she must reassure them that there’s no catch. She just enjoys doing it.

“The parents are appreciative and have shared it gives their kids something to look forward to,” Duenas shared, overcome by emotion. “It’s just kind of turning into people getting together just for the purpose of having an activity and being social.”

Donations of old magazines would be helpful for the vision boards and may be dropped off at the Oakdale Leader office on South Third Avenue.

Families interested in participating in the Jan. 6, 2023 event are welcome to just show up, or text Duenas to ensure proper space. She may be reached at 209-380-6527.