Twice a week, a SkyArt employee assembles about 50 art kits consisting of supplies such as colored pencils, sketchbooks and canvases.
They’re delivered every Friday to kids attending the community center.
“SkyArt is the only free accessible art program in the whole city of Chicago,” said executive director Sarah Ward, “which is startling because we’re so isolated on the Far Southeast Side.”
The kits are only a portion of the work the nonprofit is doing to make sure art helps heal. Some kits encourage creativity, and others are created specifically for the center’s art therapy sessions.
“Art is generally a therapeutic practice and it’s a stress relief. But art therapy is a little different. Obviously, someone administering it is an art therapist and they’ve had years of practice in development and assessment. It also has to do with materials used. So if someone has suffered trauma, you have more restricted materials like pencils and paper as opposed to loose materials, like clay or watercolor,” said Ward.
Ward says she’s found it to be a productive method to help kids express how they’re feeling in ways they wouldn’t in regular conversation — and she’s grateful to provide a resource that helps start those important conversations.
If you’re interested in an art kit, SkyArt is now offering curbside pickup. And volunteers with the art center say that because they’ve received such a strong response to their art therapy sessions, they recently added two therapists to their team.
This story was first published June 15, 2020. It has been updated.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.