My 10-year-old nephew, John, has a supersized obsession with space shuttles.

Last August, he was one of several students selected to ask a question of the astronauts in the International Space Station as it passed over Indiana – a real-time conversation about gravity, hydroponics, and whether or not they got bored up there. (The answer: “No, because the view of Earth is way too cool.") He more recently visited the Los Angeles Space Center and saw the shuttle Endeavor, which made more than 25 round-trips, delivering materials and supplies to our outposts in space.

John’s curiosity about space travel has been sparked by enriching experiences in school and at home. His childhood was equally influenced by a musical father and grandmother, and he started cello lessons when he was just three or four. Ask him to name a favorite composer, and unlike my two kids who would throw out Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, John will talk about Beethoven and Bach as if they were personal friends.

All of these sparks add up to a kid with a vivid imagination – one that is reinforced by remarkable but tangible life experiences like talking to an astronaut in space as easily as he calls his cousins in a neighboring state. As my father, John’s grandfather, has observed: “Young people from this day forward will be in the vanguard of creative citizens -- citizens not of the world, but of the universe.”

It’s for those citizens of the universe, growing up in today’s complex environment, that ArtsWave has partnered with the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative to introduce, a new website for families, parents and educators that points to a wide variety of educational opportunities in the arts, science, technology, engineering, math and design. We want all kids to have access to inspirational activities that fuel their creativity and learning, and that better prepare them for productive and satisfying futures. We want all kids to have the chance to dream, sparked by early arts and science experiences.

It’s also why we sincerely appreciated this email shared with us by our friends at the global brand design agency, LPK. It’s an internal communication, reprinted here with their permission, encouraging employees to support the ArtsWave Community Campaign:

You’re one of the lucky ones who gets to work in a creative field every day, expressing yourself, stretching, challenging ideas and developing solutions that will surprise and delight your clients and their audiences. For every one of us there are a thousand people who didn’t get to follow through on their dreams.

Who saw that potential in you?

Who cared enough about you and your craft to make sure you had a path to follow, or at least one that didn’t look like a brick wall at every turn.

That person, or those people, supported the arts so you could be here today. It’s that simple.

So when we ask you to consider donating to ArtsWave, it’s not just for some sense of altruistic symbolism. This is about giving the next group behind us a chance to create a better world through the arts … to help people pursue their dreams.

What a great reminder! Not only does investing in the arts enliven our communities and bridge cultural divides (never more important in our world than it is today), but gifts to the arts are also ensuring the dreams and imaginations of the future. With so many things outside our control, this, at least, is something we can do!  We can invest in the future creativity and problem-solving of our young people, by increasing their access to the arts.

The 2016 ArtsWave Community Campaign runs through April 28. We’re at 60 percent of our goal to raise $12.45 million for the arts that make Cincinnati amazing. Please help us get the rest of the way there, so we can continue to inspire kids of all ages to dream big.

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