Kristina Appelgate

 Kristina, in plaid shorts, and her three siblings, with two adopted cousins (blonde-haired boys) in Tehran, Iran. c1976

The daughter of adventurous parents brought their family to live in Tehran, Iran, in the mid-1970s. Sparked by her experiences as a child living abroad, Kristina, later in life, realized she wanted to be an adult who explored the world, become an artist, and dream up a team-building workshop that would bring children and adults together from all cultures. 

As a child, Kristina struggled with dyslexia. The frustration of seeing words jump around on a page, skipping lines, inability to focus on reading, and overall how long tasks took to complete compared to her peers sparked the idea of creating art that would help tell a story by making writing easier for children who struggle on the Spectrum. What she discovered was the therapy art exercises she began developing with the help of others gave children confidence and focus on putting pen to paper.

In 1988 after high school, Kristina moved to Boston, MA, to attend, formally known as The Art Institute of Boston, now Lesley University. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art and made Dean’s list her senior year. While in college, she began working for Beacon Press, creating illustrations for cover stories. After graduating in 1992, Kristina became a Jr. Designer with William H. Sadlier, a Christian curriculum publication on Wall Street in NYC. Soon after, she began working as a junior designer and art buyer at Scholastic Publishing, NYC.

In 1994 Kristina moved to Longmont, Colorado, and became part of the digital illustration boom, creating hundreds of illustrations for Microsoft. Later Kristina was Commissioned to create illustrations for the inside tea boxes for Celestial Seasonings’-Wellness Teas. And in 1995, Kristina started a greeting card company called Oryx Mountain Studios, creating the ABC Endangered Animal Collection. Pier One ImportsThe San Diego Zoo, The Denver Zoo, and Barnes & Noble sold Kristina’s cards. Caravan International bought the card line from Kristina in 1997.

In 1999 Kristina moved to Vermont to live on a farm with her husband, learning how to backcountry ski and snowshoe, rescue and raise animals, and drive and calm nervous horses. She also enjoyed small agricultural farming, selling at a local farmers market, learning about home restoration, and creating mirrors out of the old barn windows on her property. Kristina began working for many local newspapers and small book publishers while starting a large-scale mixed media portrait series of famous faces.

In 2008, seven years after moving to Central Vermont and having two children, Kristina became inspired by Eric Carle, the author and illustrator of the “Very Hungry Caterpillar,” who was known for creating unique paper art in his illustrations. With the mentoring of two Vermont retired school teachers, Roger Crowley and Newton Baker, they quickly began to work together to create the first Kids Share Workshop (first named Portraits for Charity) with local Vermont school children. Kristina taught the children how to make beautiful paper art to be included in their artwork and co-created professional illustrations.

Kids Share Workshops (KSW) was born in 2008. Two years after the first book was published, Kids Share Workshops was honored with the United States Board on Books for Young People (USSBY)Bridge to Understanding Award for their cross-cultural sharing.

While working to develop KSW, Kristina continued her love of art by working with creating many Jewish illustrations. And in 2011; New York Times bestselling authors Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts found Kristina on and called her at Kristina’s home to ask if she would illustrate their book, Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families, published by Harper Collins. 

Starting in 2010, Kristina began training volunteers. She teamed up with Partners of the Americas to teach her first international workshops with Kids Share in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Oregon, and Costa Rica. Kristina traveled and taught on and off for four years in Latin America. She then became a student of the Spanish Language.

April 2013, Kids Share Workshops was invited to teach the vulnerable children who survived the school shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Kids Share was invited back in 2015 to teach at the temporary school. The children were happy to see Kids Share return.

In 2016, Kristina and her organization began building a Kids Share Workshops with Rahsaan GrahamSenior Director for Child Protection and Education with World Vision USA, based in NYC. In 2017, Kids Share Workshops taught its first successful program with the World Vision team in Zambia, Africa. They created its first documentary film and Music Video, GLOW by (Sophie Beem) professionally filmed by Wari OmThe film won two international film festival awards in 2018.

And today, Kristina continues to keep Kids Share Workshop going with the help of passionate volunteers. Her future goal is to get the curriculum online for educators and school counselors to use in group therapy throughout the USA and worldwide. Kristina’s LinkedIn Profile

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