Do you think it's ok for a child to grow up fearful and isolated? Imagine a world where youth who have been traumatized can find a safe place to heal. That's our vision. ArtForce Iowa reaches out to children ages 12-18 who are refugees, immigrants, or system-involved with an invitation to make art and music. Artist mentors foster youth artists' belief in their own creative power. We are all on a healing journey, and ArtForce Iowa aims to interrupt ongoing childhood trauma with art and kindness.
The children and young people we serve typically lack resources to see beyond their immediate needs. The neighborhoods in Des Moines where most of our youth live have high rates of crime and substance abuse, and have the highest concentration of children and poverty in the city. In a state that is 90% white, many people find it easy to ignore or blame children of color rather than examine the labels so many are forced to carry: "hoodlum," "gangster," or worse.
ArtForce Iowa has served hundreds of youth by offering them a supportive arts community and access to arts and cultural experiences. We provide necessary resources such as clothing and food while tackling issues like domestic violence, sexual assault, homelessness and delinquency. In this time of physical distancing to prevent infection, ArtForce Iowa has worked with our Youth Advisory Board to come up with a care-package solution that reminds each young artist they are valued and loved.
ArtForce Iowa believes in the individual, youth-led approach. Young people who have been denied opportunities, discriminated against, belittled and hurt need a healthy, safe environment in which to learn to love themselves for who they are. We open doors to art, music and creativity with nonjudgmental, friendly artist mentors. By encouraging youth to make art, we create a lifelong path towards healing. Our virtual workshops reach youth and build community while keeping all of us safe.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).