Research shows that in order to overcome trauma, children need to build resilience. According to the Harvard Center for the Developing Child, resilience is built though caring community relationships and the development of new skills.
Free Arts creates a world where community members join together to support children as they explore their stories and learn and practice new skills in and through the arts. Free Arts programs build resilience by:
- Creating a safe and positive environment where children can express themselves
- Connecting children with caring adults
- Allowing children to learn and practice artistic and life skills
- Connecting children with their peers and community
Free Arts utilizes the arts and proven youth development methods to deliver a model that we call “Art with Intention.” Each program is thoughtfully planned to include specific elements that promote safety, self-expression, and a sense of belonging. Simple activities like closing rituals and creating group expectations inform the significant transformation that many children experience in our programs.
All Free Arts programs are delivered by volunteer mentors and professional teaching artists. Free Arts believes that anyone can help heal a child. We provide specialized training on brain development and trauma, effective communication with children, and the healing effects of the arts.
In recent years, the idea of therapeutic arts has become more mainstream through the work being done with veterans with PTSD. The military's acknowledgement of the effects of arts therapy on soldiers has legitimized work that has been effectively proven for many years. We are grateful for the notoriety that these veteran's projects are bringing to therapeutic arts. We have been able to build on this popularity and engage policymakers looking at a diverse group of interests - children, social services, military, youth development, and community engagement.
The Free Arts model is engaging because it does not require a specialized skill-set, like a therapeutic credential. Because this work - Art with Intention - can be delivered by community volunteers, the cost to governments and existing funding organizations is minimal and the work can be scaled for greater impact.