When Jalen arrived at her first Free Arts Day at the Phoenix Art Museum, she had shut herself off from those around her. After resisting our efforts to encourage her participation in the day’s art activity, we partnered the teenager with Sara, a volunteer, so they could talk together. While they were sitting together, Sara noticed Jalen clutching herself and shivering with cold, because she was wearing only shorts and a short-sleeved shirt in the chilly November weather. Sara quickly offered her sweater to Jalen, and the teenager began to open up to her.

“This is my very first day in a group home,” she told the volunteer. “Last night I was removed from my home and my family. All I have from home are the clothes I’m wearing.”

Jalen didn’t know where her family was, or how long they would be away from one another- she didn’t want to think about art. She wanted to be with her family. Sara listened as Jalen told her story, and at the end of the day, the teenager experienced more than just art. She received the opportunity to begin coping with her situation and connect with a caring adult.

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Over 900 people from all walks of life use the arts to help children build resiliency and learn to trust and heal.

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