The free expression they enable is a vital component of life—and education.

I love festival T-shirts. My favorite is one from last year's Columbus Arts Festival that proclaims, “The Earth without Art Is ‘Eh!' ”

Just imagine an art-free day: No music. No songs. No stories. No paintings. No sculptures. No dance. No books. No literature. No designs. No colors. No photographs. What a joyless, grim, silent dull time.

We cannot write or talk enough about the arts in our lives, or in the lives of cultures around the world. They are one of the treasures of the human family and should never be taken for granted. From ancient cave days to 2018, the arts have sustained and celebrated, recorded and communicated the human spirit, which is universal to all people.

As strong and persevering as the arts are through history—through wars, famines, natural disasters—they are also fragile and vulnerable to authoritarian rulers whose dictatorships are threatened by the freedom of expression that define the arts. And sad but true, many schools, cities and towns often start with the arts when confronted by budget cuts that put programs on the chopping block. We must always be outspoken and articulate advocates about the importance of the arts.

Embracing the arts comes naturally to children. Watch a group of kids at any community event or activity, and you'll see most of them are ready, willing and eager to plunge into the action. Their role models for participation are usually the youngest among them.

Pablo Picasso said he spent his life trying to paint like a child. Unfettered, unclogged by stereotyped images and ideas, open to exploration with every kind of material, our kids are poster symbols of creativity.

During stressful times like the beginning of a new school year, a simple art experience can prove both relaxing and fun. At a recent Sunday visit to the Columbus Museum of Art, we sat with children in the beautiful hands-on gallery and watched as they were totally immersed in their creations. One small boy sat across from his father as he tried to make a figure. He asked his father, “Daddy, help me with my stick figure. I can't reach. … I still have short arms.” They worked together and a wonderful stick figure emerged. There was certainly no “eh” on that special day!

“Mamaloshen” is the Yiddish term for “the mother tongue” and we have adapted it here to represent the wisdom of Columbus arts educator, author and all-around inspiration Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld, who is on a mission to help parents raise happy, healthy, creative children.