“Being a left-brain person all my life and not considering myself to be artistic, I thought there would be little except embarrassment to be garnered from the training. I couldn't have been more wrong.” ~ Linda Leonard Woods
Art is a powerful force, and so is First Aid Arts’ program developer and trainer, Ruth Yeo Peterman. Go ahead and tell her you’re left-brained or uncoordinated or have no background in the arts. First, she will put you at ease with her disarming smile and soothing voice. Then, the next thing you know, you’ll be moving and creating in ways you never imagined possible.
Just ask the folks who gathered for two Healing Arts Toolkit trainings Ruth conducted at Northland Church in the Orlando area last month.
Thirty-six trainees attended, including volunteers, therapists, and social workers from various agencies as well as the Care Center at Northland Church, and ConnectCity, a non-profit which houses a transition program for women coming out of incarceration and trafficking. Representatives from the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Orange County Jail also attended.
Ruth was assisted at the first training by Alison Kearley, an art therapy student at Tallahassee University who attended a First Aid Arts training in Dallas last October and was excited to help introduce others to tools and methods that revolutionized the way she views her own career and education.
Trainees not only learned about the legitimacy of using the arts to aid in the healing process for those they serve, they experienced it first hand. At the beginning of the training, many were concerned about their lack of creativity and artistic background, but by the end they confessed a sense of freedom and delight in being able to express themselves without reservation.
Because we understand that serving traumatized populations over an extended period of time takes a toll on even the most skillful and devoted worker, self care is always a key part of training. Several trainees said that the training prompted them to clear out a space in their homes to practice the arts for self care, and to pick up long forgotten paintbrushes and sketchbooks. One trainee even described how she has always felt confined — believing there were objective standards for artistic expression — and that she found it particularly freeing to create purely for the sake of her own well-being.
Abi Mills, a key organizer, said Northland Church is thrilled to have hosted the training. She believes it will be fundamental in equipping them to empower survivors of trauma to live healthy, flourishing lives. “Something particularly beautiful about the Healing Arts curriculum is that everyone can benefit from it,” she said. “This curriculum breaks down barriers between facilitator and participant by revealing our basic human yearning to create beauty. The arts bring life to everyone.”
We couldn't agree more. The arts bring life to everyone. Thank you for helping First Aid Arts bring life to survivors of trauma and those who serve them.