Helping kids through the healing power of creativity, that's the goal of the nonprofit, Art with Heart. They create and distribute therapeutic books and programs and offers supportive trainings that help children dealing with the stress and strain of unbearable hardship. In this way, Art with Heart supports their emotional and social growth, paving the way for success in school and in life.
One of their publications, Chill & Spill (which underwent a year-long evaluation study to discover the benefits of its use with high-risk youth and the professionals that serve them), is a therapeutic, guided journal that benefits kids dealing with overwhelming stressors such as illness, death, abuse, homelessness, and more. From the survivors of disaster to children of divorce, Chill & Spill helps teens and 'tweens convey both their suffering and strength, reducing the symptoms of trauma, facilitating healing, promoting coping skills and building self-confidence.
Chill & Spill gives youth a safe place for self-expression. It allows them to become active participants in their own healing, to communicate grief and loss, and to see themselves as survivors rather than victims - a critical step in trauma recovery.
We've been tracking one of their wonderful stories . . . a group of young women between the ages of 13 and 18, from Soweto, South Africa who came together to enjoy a Chill & Spill workshop. The teacher there adapts the activities to fit relevant issues related to their lives in South Africa, as the girls hail from an area which suffers from poverty, high unemployment, child-headed households resulting from the HIV/Aids pandemic, crime, and teen pregnancy. All the girls live with guardians or are in foster care.
Using themes developed in the book, the girls are able to discuss self-awareness, being good to oneself, and loving who they are. The goal is for each young woman to feel seen, validated and indelibly connected to each other through a sense of abundance!
Aside from problems associated with growing up and the situations they face in Soweto, Stacey, the group's leader, tells us: "My heart ached when a few said that they won't write in their journals till the next workshop. When I asked why, they said they didn't have any pens." Since then, Stacey has been able to get some supplies donated.
Organizations here in the United States and around the world are using the variety of materials (for ages 6+) developed by Art With Heart and you can read more at their website, subscribe to their newsletter and consider a donation. It's an organization that is making a difference for all of us.