Free Arts Continues to Provide Hope and Healing

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Posted By on July 8, 2020

Even during this tough time, Free Arts for Abused Children is continuing to transform children’s trauma to resilience. “Because we are a stable, nimble organization, we’ve been able to pivot programs and alter delivery so that children who have experienced the trauma of abuse, neglect or homelessness can find stability through Free Arts programs,” said executive director Alicia Sutton Campbell.

Though most of the nonprofit’s regular program is on pause, Free Arts has created new options to help kids cope with frightening things happening around them. Here’s a look at how the organization is continuing to build hope and healing through artistic expression.

Art Heals Videos: This video series is available to both children in Free Arts programs and the general public. The free online videos feature professional teaching artists providing instruction in everything from drumming to drawing to movement while highlighting the use of art-based coping skills.   

Hope Packages/Take-Home Projects: Free Arts is conducting virtual sessions for their caregiving community and foster parents, dropping off art projects and materials to their 40 social-service partner agencies, so kids in group homes, shelters and foster homes have activities to keep art in their lives.

Want to help? Bridget Costello, Free Arts director of development, has a suggestion. “One of the easiest ways to support Free Arts during this socially distant time is to donate art supplies we can use in our programs. You can find our wish list on Amazon or send us a virtual gift card that we can use to purchase the most critical supplies.”

Multicultural Arts Camp: Free Arts has offered a summer Camp Series for more than 20 years. Camps are usually held at a community location, involving about 50 children a week from a variety of foster homes, group homes, shelters and treatment centers around Maricopa County. “The Free Arts Camp Series is transformational for children and teens who participate,” said program manager Marisa Arellano. “It helps them experience a sense of belonging and gives them the opportunity to express themselves and their stories in new ways.”

This year, Free Arts had to rethink how to provide these opportunities safely. Florence Crittenton, a Free Arts partner agency since 1995, agreed to host this year’s camp on their campus for the 30 teens residing there. On July 13-17, Free Arts will create an on-site camp experience where teens will learn artistic techniques to explore their experiences and feelings about their current situations, including the pandemic and racial justice movements.

Free Arts Theater Camp: This will be the 20th year Free Arts has partnered with the Herberger Theater Center to create an unforgettable experience for teens. While teens typically perform to an audience of more than 750 people over the course of two shows, this year they will learn and rehearse via Zoom and their final performance will be recorded and shared online.

Participants will work with five professional teaching artists to explore theater, dance, music, spoken-word poetry and visual art. Throughout the two-week camp and with the mentorship of these teaching artists, the 20 teens will creatively share their stories, feelings and perspectives. “We think there will be some real opportunities for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking this year as teens explore how to share their stories using new media,” camp director Joe Flowers said.

To learn more, go to Free Arts for Abused Children.

Karen Werner

About Karen Werner

Karen Werner is the editor of Frontdoors Media. She is a writer, editor and media consultant. She has interned at The New Yorker, worked at Parents Magazine, edited five books and founded several local magazines. Her work has appeared in Sunset, Mental Floss and the Saturday Evening Post.