BENEFITING: Voices of the Children
The second annual Rachel's heART creative therapy art camp is just around the corner. After the incredible success of our pilot program at the YMCA Oasis Teen Shelter in 2016, it became evident that this model needs to evolve into a sustainable program that serves the next generation of our community. Benjamin Swatez has created an art therapy curriculum over the past thirteen years that has proven to be highly effective in work around the world.
Swatez brings this experience back to the Skagit Valley to create a safe and inspired environment for our youth to express and share their voice through the positive outlet of creativity. Furthermore, as this camp takes a step forward, a mural in the city of Mount Vernon will be painted by Mr. Swatez and the youth of Oasis and the Skagit Valley, emphasizing the enormous positive influences that immigrants have had on our nation.
This camp shares effective therapeutic tools with the teen shelter staff and results in a professional mural that will be an enduring reminder to our community of compassion and the rich legacy of diversity.
Rachel's heART camp will be held from June 19th through June 30th. The first week will be held at YMCA Oasis Teen Shelter where Mr. Swatez will teach the art therapy curriculum and paint alongside the underrepresented youth. Hundreds of paintings will be produced throughout this week, offering an opportunity for the participants to find their voice. It will offer a therapeutic release for psychological and physical health issues and access to self empowerment tools.
The second week will be held in downtown Mount Vernon, painting a professional mural. Mr. Swatez has painted murals with refugees, former child soldiers, orphans, recently rescued sex slaves and more in over 20 countries. He has painted murals for Embassies, in Refugee Camps, on municipality buildings, cultural centers, in communities living on trash fills, on schools, in war-zones and so forth. He will direct this mural with the youth of our community and leave behind a powerful message with beautiful aesthetics and technique for the Skagit Valley to appreciate for years to come. This offers youth an opportunity to paint something with an international artist that they can always feel good about and use their energy in a positive way.
This camp is named after Rachel, Mel Damski's mother who escaped the Holocaust as a teenager and immigrated to the United States to start a new life and offer her future family a safe environment to grow and prosper. At the age of eighty, she began to paint for the first time. It benefited her life in indescribable ways and released trauma she had been carrying in her psyche for several decades. It enhanced the last years of her life tremendously and always brought a smile to her face. She recently passed away and left behind a legacy and a dream that everyone, especially youth, would have the opportunity to benefit from the gifts of painting and creative expression. Hence, this inspiring camp is called Rachel's heART!