The ARTS program is a great resource for the kids that I work with because it gives them a chance to voice their needs and stories when they often do not have the words. Many of these kids have traumatic histories and they greatly benefit from an outlet where they can learn a coping strategy that will aid them in regulating their emotions to get through any adversities they are facing. The people and staff that instruct and lead the classes are very friendly and patient and are always full of fresh, new art activities. It is an hour that not only do the kids look forward to, but I do as well!
Holly Johnson, IMF, Mental Health Therapist at Polinsky Day Rehab Program

11 months ago I was at Rady Children’s Hospital recovering from a massive panic attack and 6th suicide attempt. I had just turned 17… Since getting involved with ARTS I have only been back to the hospital once for a panic attack but was so mad that I missed classes at ARTS that I never went back to the hospital again and I have not hurt myself since. Being a part of A Reason To Survive has made me stay away from the hospital and kept me strong. It’s literally given me a reason to survive… We now talk about my dreams of maybe becoming a psychiatric nurse or art therapist.With ARTS in my life I now have hope that my dreams will come true.
Jessica, Empower Student, age 17

Jessica and Karla

Karla has always been very responsible and has faced high anxiety and depression. When she started at ARTS I noticed her anxiety and depression decreasing at home. As a parent I feel good knowing that Karla is attending ARTS where she is always learning. I talked to her teacher, Alma and learned that she taught Karla how to commit to finishing her projects and is teaching her to set goals for herself to accomplish.
Amelia G, mother of Karla, age 16

A Reason To Survive has helped my daughter re-discover her value, her self-worth, her uniqueness. It has provided a venue for her to explore her creativity with encouragement and acceptance. Most importantly, Rosalinda’s involvement in the ARTS program has restored her hope. She is now able to fathom a positive future for herself. I am in awe of her transformation and what ARTS is doing in kids’ lives.
Ana Muñoz, Mother of Empower Student, Rosalinda

Ana and daughter, Rosalinda

Art has always been my outlet & escape in my life since I was young and the victim of abuse.I admired artists and thought that when I grew up and got out of those situations, I could make a difference in other young children’s lives that are going through hardships. ARTS has given me that opportunity.
Kelsey, former Empower Student, now going to art school

Art has always been a big part of my life, it was the one thing about me that stood out and made me feel good about myself. I have always had low self-esteem and when I make art I can combat that, I can fight my battles on canvas or on notebook paper instead of in my head. When I was homeless I could sell drawings or small paintings to make some extra money, or trade for things I needed. For me, art is an expression of self. It is a direct window into the artist’s soul. You can pour all your emotions into your art; your pain, your anger, your fear, and your happiness, and when you’re done you’re left feeling satisfied. Art is an exercise in the imagination. For me, making art is just that, it’s for me. It is my outlet and what I love to do.
Hannah, Empower Alumni

Being at ARTS came hand in hand with the current situations that were occurring in my life at the time and the situations I had gone through within what is now the past 6 or 7 years. I was bullied constantly in middle school and associated with the ‘bad kids’ in school. I went into a downwards spiral and became careless with my life and my future. As time passed on, certain habits I developed as a young teen followed me as I got older. But through music, I was able to push myself through it all and get my life back together. It was a constant factor in the success of reaching my goals and was great motivation while finding and figuring out the person I was and the person I wanted to be. It is now a great part of my life and brings true joy to my everyday life. It gives me purpose, hope and reason to keep getting up in the morning and keep striving to be the best I can be.
Stephanie G, now an Empower Alumni Music Department Assistant

When I paint I leave my worries at school, my life at home and anything stressful at the door. I try to put pure happy thoughts in my paintings so hopefully the joy and happiness will be given and shared with lots of people. Like Buddha once said ‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.’
Destinee, now an Empower Alumni Teaching Artist

Art for me is a wonderful gift. It saved me. I was never too fond of painting and drawing as a child. I thought my work was silly and childish. It was not until middle school when I found I really needed something to save me. Life was rough and I needed a way to express myself. Before I knew it my first painting of a dog was sold to my geography teacher. It made me thrilled to know my art was appreciated. It made me thrilled to know I was appreciated. Art still continues to save me and keep me strong.
Stephanie J, Empower Alumni, now making custom cards for ARTS

Destinee, Hannah, Stephanie G, Kelsey, Stephanie J

ARTS is helping me to achieve my goals and dreams of being successful as an artist by opening doorways, windows and pathways, making it easy for everything to come together in amazing ways. It’s like living in a book that keeps getting better and better!
Kyle, age 23, who suffered a major brain injury

Kyle’s artwork

In my artwork as in life, I am intrigued by the intangible. I am currently exploring relationships between emotion, cosmology, pattern, geometry and symbolism. These concepts seem to underlie the interconnection between objects and “other” objects. I am fascinated by the idea that all matter is composed of essentially mostly empty space and as an artist, this empty space allows for much interpretation and imagination. After making numerous portraits, I’ve found an interest in dealing with the fundamental elements that make up the human face as well as any other object. Art allows me the freedom to explore my ideas which are usually difficult to put into words.
Tashia, now an Empower Alumni Teaching Artist