The other day while visiting the playing field I was introduced to a resident I had not met before. He was understandably shy but welcomed the opportunity to greet me. He was holding a blank piece of paper and I asked what it was for. He explained that it was for a project he was doing and did not seem eager to offer any details. A while later while I was talking to a member of our recreation staff, the same resident approached me this time with some lyrics on the paper, explaining his excitement about recording these lyrics to some music he had selected. The staff member encouraged him and shared with him the details of the upcoming recording session. He lit up at the thought of being able to record his lyrics to music.
I can’t wait to hear what will come of the recording session. A shy, seemingly vulnerable boy finally gets a chance to express himself…priceless. Of course, all this has little to do with the final product, but rather the importance of the experience itself. More than anything else, it is essential for him to know that he can say what he thinks and feels, his voice will be heard and respected, and what he has to say is important. For youngsters, whose sense of worth has been compromised by indifference if not neglect, an opportunity to express themselves can be transformational.
The arts program at Hillsides provides a special way that our residents can express what they feel in their hearts and have on their minds without necessarily conforming to the usual norms governing either an instructional or clinical session. It is a way to tap into their creative energy and to learn the joy and pleasure of being spontaneous and enthusiastic while revealing an important sense of who they are.
What is offered through the expressive art program is indeed therapeutic. In tandem with the clinical and educational staff, our art and recreational specialists support the overall goal of ameliorating the trauma experienced by children. The staff restore children to a sense of well-being essential for their reunification with family and community.
Integrating expressive arts to augment traditional therapies has become an indispensable part of services offered at Hillsides. At the upcoming gala, this program will be featured with the hope of generating much-needed funding to sustain it.
If you have not yet secured a ticket to this wonderful event, please contact Carrie Espinoza, director of development, at 323-543-2800, ext. 121 and make arrangements to support the many initiatives at Hillsides to create lasting change for all we serve.