What our Art and Soul Students are saying:
“The first time in my life that I felt strong was when I started to write poetry. It was a way to express my anger or happiness without being outspoken.”
- Cathy, a 17 year old girl who had just survived a suicide attempt.
“I never felt strong or proud in my life. But I felt proud when I got in the booth at the recording studio and rapped for the first time.”
- Adrian a 13 year old boy who called the police on his father for repeatedly beating him
“I learned that I could paint my feelings. I can say a lot about what’s happening around me. Every time I look at my paintings, it makes me fee good about myself.”
- Amber, a 16 year old girl who survived a childhood of domestic violence and drugs
Creative Zone Program:
Our students are 12 to 18 year old youth who have been removed from their homes and placed in temporary foster care at the Children Are Our Future agency, mostly due to physical or sexual abuse, or severe neglect. Many of their parents are incarcerated, mentally ill, deceased or drug addicted.
On top of the trials of adolescence, these kids have tremendous additional burdens to carry. Although they do see therapists, for many of them traditional therapy has not been enough. That’s when they are referred to our program.
Using professional artists and musicians, we teach our students to express their emotions through creativity. Instead of tagging public property, we teach them to make their mark on canvas. Instead of acting out in school, we encourage them to write about their feelings, or act them out in the recording studio through song, rap and spoken word poetry. In addition to helping them vent difficult emotions, we are also building trust and partnerships.
Through this program, we have seen depressed, socially awkward children blossom as they find their own voices. Most of these children never imagined they were capable of creating something of value, as their lives were focused on survival. Once they discover what they can accomplish, it opens their minds to new possibilities, and to hope.
(Founders: Joy Bonner and Hollye Dexter at our student's art show)
We have partnered with award-winning ONEgeneration Senior Centers to provide arts programs, teaming at-risk youth with senior mentors.
Our Senior and Teen students (or Seens and Teens, as we call them) share the fun of expressing truth through painting, storytelling, poetry, and writing and recording our own songs. In addition we share birthday celebrations, field trips and special classes with guest artists. The result is that new skills are learned, mentorships are fostered, and great friendships blossom between generations.
We provide one on one music lessons to foster children who express interest and willingness to learn. We offer instruction in guitar, piano, drums and vocals. Learning to play an instrument strengthens self-esteem, builds bonds and trust with the instructor, and as studies show, can improve learning skills in both math and reading.