Jul 10, 2021

Art and Kindness in Iowa Interrupts Trauma

Original photo by youth artist MB
Original photo by youth artist MB

ArtForce Iowa had a goal to reach 100 youth in central Iowa with art and kindness through care packages during the COVID epidemic. With your support, we have reached over 250 youth! Some youth artists have chosen to become entrepreneurs and sell their art at ArtForceIowaShop.com.

In the past three months, (April, May and June 2021) youth artists from ages 5-19 received lovingly packed quality art supplies and attended online art-making workshops with artist mentors. We have invested in training our staff and artist mentors in Youth Mental Health First Aid as well as healing-centered engagement in order to be mindful of each person's journey. This training enables us to work as a team to offer pschological safety and nonjudgemental support to youth who deal with many challenges while they balance family, work and school.

Your donations go directly to youth... to help us provide materials that help them express themselves creatively and help them and their families feel safe in a changing world. We are sending you love from Des Moines, Iowa.

Clay sculpture inspired by public art.
Clay sculpture inspired by public art.
Mar 10, 2021

Interrupting Trauma with Art and Kindness

ArtForce Iowa Supply Kit
ArtForce Iowa Supply Kit

Thank you again, supporters, for valuing the creativity of youth who have been marginalized. With your support, ArtForce Iowa is able to reach young people who have been labelled or stigmatized by oppressive systems with the healing power of art. In workshops, we mindfully foster healing-centered engagement and psychological safety, as shown by the insightful things youth say in workshops:

"I don't think I have a 'happy color' - I think my 'happy' is more calm than, like, happy."

"People calling me 'pretty' is a trigger for me. I've heard it over and over growing up, and it sets up a weird and unrealistic expectation for me."

"Sometimes I have bad thoughts. What do you do when you want bad thoughts to go away?"

"If I didn't make things with my hands, I think I would be a super-anxious person."

We at ArtForce Iowa are so grateful to provide opportunities for social emotional growth through art-making. And supporters like you make it happen! Because of the generosity of GlobalGiving donors, have provided 250 high-quality art supply kits and over 100 fun art-making workshops since March 17, 2021. (That's the day ArtForce Iowa went virtual to protect our neighbors from COVID-19.) Please feel the love and gratitude we are sending you! 

Art created by a youth in juvenile detention
Art created by a youth in juvenile detention
Jan 12, 2021

Art and Kindness Reaches 250 Youth in Iowa

Packing art supply kits for youth in need
Packing art supply kits for youth in need

Dearest neighbors,

Change and taking detours isn't new to ArtForce Iowa, but we never would have guessed what kind of journey 2020 would take us on. Here's a monthly timeline of highlights for this incredibly wild year:

January: We packed up our 5000 sqft studio spaces and moved into our new 1300 sqft home located at the building formerly known as the Des Moines Social Club!

February: Our youth enjoyed their first month of workshops in the new space. Meal prepping and dinners together in the culinary loft kitchen was so fun!

March: We stopped all in-person programming because of COVID-19 and launched ArtFul Connections, a virtual art workshop for everyone to join us Monday to Friday over the lunch hour. We also launched the ArtForce at Home initiative to provide and deliver art supplies to marginalized youth in Iowa. 

April: Our first month of ArtFul Connections and ArtForce at Home was a success. Young people were meeting us virtually to make art and to connect. Our family of artists was growing. 

May: We cancelled our annual #KNOWJUSTICE art exhibit. WHO channel 13 news in Des Moines, Iowa featured the resiliency of ArtForce Iowa and our innovative work to continue transforming youth in need through art. 

June: Over 75% of our youth and their families tested positive or were exposed to COVID-19. ArtForce Iowa continued to provide art supplies, supplemental food and PPE. 

July: We launched our ArtForce Iowa Shop and ended ArtFul Connections. Over 24,000 people globally joined us to make art Monday through Friday between the months of March to July. 

August: ArtForce Iowa took several trips to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to support families impacted by the Derecho storm. We provided over 100 art kits and delivered over 1000 gallons of drinking water along with portable hand sinks and necessary sanitizing supplies like hand sanitizers, cleaning wipes and masks.

September: We created partnerships with other community organizations in order to offer the youth and families they serve access to art. We even found the courage to work with the little ones! (Pre-pandemic, we only served youth ages 12-19.) Now we are virtually “everywhere” and striving to serve the whole family. 

October: ArtForce Iowa increased workshops for youth who live away from home, in drug-rehabilitation programs, mental health facilities, group homes or juvenile detention. We know these are important places where we can advocate for positive youth development and healing-centered practices. 

November: Our annual “Holiday Hustle” youth art sale event was 100% virtual. Youth artists made and sold their own art over the Black Friday weekend. Youth kept 75% of their sales, with 25% going to support mental health for immigrant and refugee youth in Iowa. 

December: We finalized our stage set design for our YouTube channel and will be recording more artful videos. We also delivered another 50 art care packages. 

This year was full of challenges, heartache and reminders of how short life is, as well as how much work still needs to be done. The fight for equity and justice will continue on into 2021, and we hope you will join us on this journey. 

We wish you and your loved ones a safe, healthy and joyful 2021. 

Art created by a youth in juvenile detention
Art created by a youth in juvenile detention
Art created for the Holiday Hustle art sale
Art created for the Holiday Hustle art sale
A youth portrait of her mother
A youth portrait of her mother
Social justice art by a young artist
Social justice art by a young artist
Preparing art supplies for a big delivery
Preparing art supplies for a big delivery
Art for the holidays!
Art for the holidays!
 
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