Ten Weeks with students at Braun Day Treatment, Sunny Hills Services –
October to December 2012
Braun Day Treatment provides therapeutic day treatment for youth ages 5-18 who struggle with severe mental health disorders which interfere with their educational progress. This year my assignment at Braun School was more important than ever, as the cutbacks made through out California was especially hard on this small school for special needs students.
At the end of the school year a panic went up as they realized that they would have to completely eliminate art, including expressive arts. In their case, they do not have the parent body to raise funds to fill in this gap. It was a relief to know that Youth in Arts was here to provide at 20 weeks of this extremely important part of their curriculum.
My projects once again met their needs. Working with various materials to express feelings, learn about perfection issues, taking a chance to do some different things. I particularly like the marbling on paper where they work wet, do not have control of the outcome and are amazed at the results. Sugar skulls are always fun, as the discover the value of food art.
The challenge for me this year are the children that I have had for almost four years, as I am aware that I have to come up with something new. Middle School attitudes are challenging in any case, but with these students, it is even more so…. I have to keep reminding myself that when a kid is acting out, it’s when they are hurting the most…often difficult when they have pushed every button of patience that I can come up with.
In the midst of this assignment my younger brother was dying of cancer. I made several trips to Ensenada to be with him, but managed to be back in time for the classes. It stunned me at the lack of empathy that many of the kids had when I shared with them that my brother had died, The following week I was given a beautiful card with their sentiments, that touched me deeply, giving me renewed strength to keep on working with these special needs children.
Thank you Youth in Arts for the support to these children.