The final education grant will support teen mothers in Denver.
Our last education award in 2018 goes to Donica, a counselor and family advocate at Florence Crittenton Services in Denver, CO. She runs their art therapy program for teen mothers. The program was in need of supplies to make art, and to display the art young women will make this year to help teachers and staff better understand the trauma and life experience of the women they serve. We are awarding $5,500 to this cause.
As Donica so elegantly put, art can help bridge gaps in understanding, fostering empathy and compassion.
Raising a child is hard, doing it while trying to graduate high school is even harder. This fantastic program helps young women and their children to do great things together. 93% of the teen moms they serve identify as youth of color, 95% qualify for free and reduced meals, 15% are food insecure, 40% lack stable housing, and 10% have been in foster care.
Teen mothers are at a very high risk of dropout and usually require intensive support in order to graduate. Young mothers are more likely to be exposed to traumatic events such as intimate partner violence, abuse, neglect, incarceration, and traumatic loss and are more vulnerable to psychological distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. As a Family Advocate, I provide individualized case management and socio-emotional support. I also run our Art Therapy Curriculum, which serves as one of our most effective dropout prevention programs. Our Art Therapy Curriculum is unique, and provides the only classroom-based art therapy offered through Denver Public Schools. The classes serve as a catalyst for our students to build relationships, develop problem-solving skills, share life experiences, and explore self-expression. One of the primary projects of the course is the Art-O-Biography. Students are provided with a watercolor book, collage materials, paints, and brushes, and are encouraged to add other meaningful personal items to their book such as photos and souvenirs. Through making this book, they safely create a visual personal narrative which includes their birthplace, their family members, childhood memories, how they view themselves, and their current interests. These exercises help our teen mothers explore their past experiences, engage with their feelings, and prepare for the challenges of being women, teen mothers, and people of color.