Conscious Peace
art by judi randolph
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Healing H'Arts at Juvi

Boom! Boom! Boom! After clearing security and being escorted into Juvenile Hall's underground facility which we affectionately refer to as "the dungeon", Judi and I entered the girls' classroom area, prepared to engage its troubled occupants in one of our Healing H'Art projects: A painting of the authentic self.

"Oh, we have a banger today," one of the guards explained over the deafening echo.

"What's a banger?" A banger, we learned, is what they call a detainee, who when placed in solitary confinement for abhorrent behavior, bangs repeatedly on the wall, creating a resounding echo in the adjoining gathering place. 

Such was our welcome to Southwest Juvenile Hall this May. Judi and I have taken our Healing H'Art projects to the troubled teens there on other occasions as well. The first day of the two-day project is usually the worst. The girls are tough and hardened, their armored façade honed to hide their hurt and suffering interior, shamed by damaged self-worth.

We quickly lay out tarps, paints and paper, and keep count of all brushes and pencils distributed, according to strict security protocol. Profiles are traced, designs blocked out, and the painting begins.

Judi and I make our rounds, gently directing, praising and encouraging. Many of the girls have never painted before in their lives. We tell them not to over-think it. We tell them stories. We share a few "mistakes" and challenges that we and others have overcome. Never do we ask about an individual student's transgressions, although if volunteered, we listen fully with empathy and non-judgment, stressing that her authentic self is pure and good; otherwise, she would feel neither guilt nor shame.

The second day is easier. Their hardened exteriors have softened. Smiles emerge. As the girls decorate their paintings with favorite quotes, symbols and words representative of their authentic selves, I make my rounds, enquiring about their individual dreams and aspirations. They slowly open up and light up. It is a joy to watch their faces brighten and their spirits lift. It is especially rewarding when we later hear that certain "problem" detainees continue to display a positive change in attitude over subsequent days or weeks.

Art (whether painting, music, dance or its myriad of other forms) is healing for children and adults alike. With its true value no longer recognized by California's public school system, millions of our children are growing up without access to art forms that even Einstein attributed as instrumental in intellectual breakthroughs, not to mention its emotionally healing attributes in our modern fragmented society.

So it is that my artist friend, Judi Randolph, and I take joy in creating and implementing Healing H'Art projects, taking them to diverse groups and venues within the community.

If you have a group (or know of a group) of six to twenty-four teens or adults, who would be interested in participating in Healing H'Arts, contact us for details, prices and availability.

 

 

Peace, love and joy,

 

 

Joan McCullough
www.Facebook.com/ConsciousPeaceCoaching
joan@consciouspeace.com
951-662-7797