BENEFITING: Voices of the Children
About this project: Voices of the Children is providing the second-annual, Rachel’s heart art camp at the YMCA, OASIS Teen Shelter in Mount Vernon, WA for two weeks, June 19th – 23rd 2017. Rachel’s heART, week one will be held at YMCA Oasis Teen Shelter where Benjamin Swatez teaches an art therapy curriculum and paints alongside homeless, foster and underrepresented youth. Rachel’s heART offers a therapeutic release for psychological and physical health issues and access to self-empowerment tools.
The second week is held in downtown Mount Vernon, painting a mural celebrating significant/famous immigrants to the USA and the impact their work has/had on our nation, set in the landscape of the Skagit Valley and celebrating positive impacts immigration has within our local community. The mural will be designed by Benjamin Swatez with ideas created by youth at OASIS Teen Shelter as part of our Rachel’s heART art camp and will be located on the South end of the Ristretto’s building, in the US Bank parking lot on Gates Street.
About Rachel’s heART art camp: 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!
About the artist and project leader, Benjamin Swatez: Benjamin 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 more. Benjamin directs this mural with the youth of our community and leaves 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.