By Jeremy Shannon
Pastor, First Baptist Church of Fort Thomas
A year and a half ago, Fort Thomas Matters ran a story featuring The Good King, a project and company run by Fort Thomas resident Arian Armstrong. The heart behind this project is to help encourage people, especially children, to learn how they can use art to change the world. With his own desire to share some of the good news happening in our community, I reached out to Arian to get an update on the work of The Good King.
RELATED: The Good King: Arian Armstrong's Magical World
As a quick refresher, followers of The Good King account regularly receive a secret coloring mission, where they learn about someone in the world that is struggling in some way, whether an illness or some other tough life circumstances. People from around the world color a specially drawn image from Armstrong and submit them to her, Arian compiles these pages and gives them to the person in need. The hope is to encourage them in the midst of a struggle and let them know they are not alone.
Mission 44: "Sir Brian of Peace. He's a father of 10, including 6 adopted with special needs, who was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. When we colored for him he was recovering from surgery and facing a grim prognosis. Now, more than a year later, he's stable, doing incredibly well, and living life to the fullest".
Mission 41: Kelsey the Wonder Girl, featuring a young girl who was battling leukemia. "Her secret coloring mission got shared on several popular dog's Instagram accounts. In one week, I received 100 photos of dogs with their colored page from a dozen different countries and an additional 150 from kids. She tragically passed away shortly after but her family was moved by the global response to her secret coloring mission".
After over 60 missions, The Good King has made a switch to expand the type of recipients featured in the secret coloring missions. Now, instead of solely featuring people who are struggling, Armstrong has decided to feature superheroes that are serving others around the world. Arian is using coloring as a chance to encourage them and show gratitude for the ways that they are working to change the world in their own unique ways.
There is a famous quote from Mister Rogers that says “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” In talking with Armstrong, this seems to be right in line with this new direction for The Good King.
The most recent coloring mission is to support a hero named Kim who currently serves in a non-profit ministry in Romania called Elder Orphan Care. In her time working with Elder Orphan Care, Kim has been able to help over 300 elderly people get off the streets and in a place where they are safe.
“I'm currently working on a kids book about the fictional backstory of The Good King Paper Co. It's meant to show kids that their gift of creativity can be a gift to the world. I'm hoping that this book, the secret coloring missions, and the other paper goods products I'm working on, will equip and inspire people to use art for good.” Armstrong said.
The results have been encouraging so far. Armstrong has partnered with a local book binding company in Cincinnati in a building that has been a site for printing for over 100 years. She has designed a series of sketchbooks and other items that help people think of ways that they can use their art as a means for encouraging, building up, and supporting others in a variety of ways. In February she attended the National Stationery Trade Show in New York and was able to get her work featured in several stores.
Jeremy Shannon said, "When reviewing the original feature there is a line that stuck out to me by Armstrong that said: 'I wish I could cure cancer. But I’m an artist. So I draw.'" From an outsider’s perspective, this is what makes the work of The Good King so impactful, especially in light of this new direction. We are not all gifted in the same way, but the good news is that those differences can be used to help impact people in unique ways.
By hearing about heroes who are changing the world, children (and adults) will be exposed to a variety of ways that they can help make the world a better place. While we might not be going to Romania to help those in need, we can support those who are and perhaps that encouragement is exactly what they need to keep going.
Be sure to follow the work of The Good King and see how you can join in their mission to save the world through art. In addition, we can all take a cue from this passion to learn how we can use our unique giftedness to brighten our corner of the world.
This article was written with the hope of sharing good news of things happening in our community. We are looking for reasons to celebrate! If you have a story that you think should be shared, please contact Jeremy Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org.