An organization wants to help foster children in Charlottesville by appealing to people's inner artist.

The Bluebird Project was created by the Foster Care Adoption Awareness Coalition, which is made up of a couple different nonprofit organizations. The project's goal is to create a "bluebird" for every single child in foster care in central Virginia.

The Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center in Charlottesville is lending a hand to the project.

"We're offering the chance for people to come in and mark their bluebirds to donate to the parade that's going to happen in May," said Alexandria Searls.

The center hopes to help create hundreds of unique bluebirds.

"A child needs to know they're important, that their individuality is important," Searls said.

The project is the brain child of Marnie Allen with the Community Attention Foster Families program. "We really want to do something that would touch the community in a way that would raise awareness and engage people," she said.

Allen says whether you're an artist, or an artist at heart, everyone can raise awareness for foster children in the area.

"If this is all they can do is create a bluebird, it's still helping to raise awareness," said Allen.

You can create your own "bluebird" artwork to donate at the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center now through March 18.

Release from the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center:

The Foster Care Adoption Awareness Coalition, which consists of these local nonprofits: Community Attention Foster Families (CAFF), Piedmont CASA, the Departments of Social Services in Albemarle and Charlottesville, People Places, DePaul Community Resources, and Great Expectations, has made a call for Bluebird art to raise awareness and funds for our area’s foster children.

Called “The Bluebird Project,” the foster care agencies want artists to submit bluebirds for a First Fridays parade in May. They hope to have a bluebird for every children in foster care in Charlottesville—which is over 200.

To support this initiative, the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, a hands-on activity center in Darden Towe Park, is dedicating its current program “Bird Blitz!” to the cause.

“Bird Blitz!” runs February 10 through March 18th and features art activities and an exhibition. People of all ages are invited to make bluebirds to take home or to donate.

A long table set up with many kinds of media - watercolor, pen, spray paint, string, acrylics, oil pastels, and more - allows visitors for the price of admission ($7 per person) to use art supplies and thick paper and get help from docents. Visitors can also bring their own canvas or fine art paper to use.

The exhibition is called “Lewis & Clark as Bird Artists” and is the first part of an art and art history series supported by a grant from the Prana Fund of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation. The series, called “The Artist in Nature,” shows examples starting from the natural history drawings of Lewis and Clark and the prints of John James Audubon and continues to the present day with Native American ledger art and with performance art based on documenting journeys. This first exhibition examines the ways in which Meriwether Lewis and William Clark documented unfamiliar species of birds. Their pen and ink drawings, which are remarkably similar to each other’s, are examined for differences.

The deadline for submitting a bluebird is March 20, and registration is taken at pcasa.org.

The Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center is open to the public Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members enter free; admission for non-members is $7 per person.

For more information, or to schedule a tour, please contact executive director Alexandria Searls at 434-996-7282, or at lewisandclark@lewisandclarkvirginia.org.