This summer, Trust For Youth and Child Leadership International will offer a Virtual Creativity Camp for Positive Mental Health. In response to the mental health challenges faced by disadvantaged youth during COVID-19 and the ongoing racial crisis, this program will provide one week of virtual sessions including painting, spoken word, collaborative theater, and creative movement. Youth will be guided through the arts to express their own stories and understand their own thoughts and feelings.
Youth living in quarantine during COVID-19 had their lives disrupted by school closures. Black, Latino, and low-income youth were especially vulnerable to stressors of limited internet access, parents facing unemployment, additional responsibilities of caring for younger siblings, and food scarcity. Their mental well-being has been tested without access to in-person socialization with friends, regular recreational and artistic outlets typically provided at school, and ongoing racial injustice.
Art offers a positive method of coping with mental stress. Fifty disadvantaged and at-risk youth identified by community partners in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia will engage in creative activities from painting to storytelling, from music to photography to process the stress and emotions of experiencing a global pandemic and the fight for racial justice, and to find beauty in their everyday lives. Youth will be better prepared to cope with mental stress and express their emotions.
The project will empower 50 disadvantaged and at-risk youth to engage with the arts to cope with mental and emotional stress, which will reduce their risks of self-harm and contribute positively to their family relationships. Additionally, nine teaching artists and art therapists who have had their contracts terminated by traditional employers will be offered temporary freelance employment to share the benefits of their artistic media with the selected youth.