Since 1999, The ArtReach Foundation’s mission has been to influence and assist, through creative expressive arts therapies, the growth and development of children who have experienced the traumatic effects of war, violence, and/or natural disaster.
Research has shown that expressive art is an enormously effective means of helping traumatized children cope with their traumas. It also gives them the tools necessary to lead productive lives.
Providing art expression in a safe, therapeutic, and educational setting allows those effected to express residual anger, loss, pain and resentment, work through emotions related to trauma, and discover renewed hope.
Three characteristics distinguish the ArtReach Model® from other programs that address similar needs:
During the first six years (2000-2005) of the Foundation’s work called ArtReach/Project Bosnia, it became apparent that its impact with teachers and children had a life-changing effect. This was not only on children, but also on entire communities. Beginning in the classroom, there was an emphasis on creating a safe and supportive environment that encouraged and enabled mutual respect, good listening, sharing, and meaningful self-expression. Children and teachers, in turn, become catalysts for change within their own families. The same atmosphere carried over into the evening public forums where parents and surrounding neighbors were given a safe place to express themselves. A facilitated group process led to a shared commitment to rebuild the community. Community members were welcomed and encouraged to participate in the ArtReach programs. Many of them then became volunteers and trainers for the ArtReach organization. Those Bosnian teachers, as well as hundreds of others from places around our globe who have been given the same tools for healing and change, continue to use and share them with members of their community. Today, ArtReach has benefited thousands of lives from places as far away as the Middle East and as close to home as its own U.S. Gulf Coast. ArtReach is committed to serving all children with an approach that heals through imagination – something they believe is most effective and cross-cultural.
The benefits of ArtReach long survive the departure of their training teams. ArtReach’s “Train the Trainers” program prepares a select cadre of talented members of the local professional community to become regional ArtReach trainers. A professional training other professionals is a proven model that can have an effect on a large and diverse population, ensure sustainability of the model, and leverage financial and human resources. ArtReach further ensures its sustainability by providing ongoing supervision and mentoring for these regional trainers until they are able to continue the work on their own.
ArtReach Teams begin their preparation with a careful study of the cultural ideologies and economic characteristics of the country, region or community that form the backdrop for the experience of trauma. The team training facilitators then designs a specific curriculum for each workshop to complement those ideologies and economic characteristics. Thus, the ArtReach Model® is meaningful and relevant for the workshop participants themselves, and for the children with whom they work.