My professional life and my blog life have always been separate. Until today.
Many of you know that my days are spent working with children as a pediatric psychologist. We all have our niche in life and mine is working with children.
On Friday afternoon, I sat at my desk and tried to avoid the influx of Facebook posts about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I knew that it was bad and I knew I couldn’t bear reading through the facts. Around 2:00pm, I finally caught up on what had happened. It was worse than I could have imagined. Kids dead. Mourning parents. Survivors. Forever scarred. I just don’t get it.
There have been too many tragedies like this in our country, but I am not in the business of arguing gun laws, school security, or the motives of the gunman. There are other skilled professionals who can do that far better than me. My cause is for the children of Newtown. The kids and survivors who have to process this and make sense of it over the next days, weeks and years. The kids who had to be escorted out of their school, passing the bodies of their classmates and teachers. The kids who likely have Christmas gifts to give to friends they won’t see again. The kids who will jump every time they hear a pot drop on the floor or a siren, fearing that it’s all happening again. The kids who will have trouble returning to school, worried if they are safe there.
There is absolutely nothing that anyone can do to rewind this disgusting event, but I feel like I must do something and I know many of you feel the same way.
During my graduate and post-grad training, I did some work with grieving children. I am by no means an expert in this area, but I have seen it. It’s tragic and unfair and extremely difficult to process.
Children seldom sit down and just start talking and telling you what’s on their mind. Some do. Most don’t. Most don’t even know what to say…they haven’t figured it out for themselves. Research in the fields of social work and psychology offer significant evidence that art can be a valuable therapeutic tool for children as they work through grief and trauma. Children’s drawings can help them tell their story to adults. Art may offer a healthy coping mechanism for children experiencing difficult emotions. Art can also provide a helpful activity for parents to spend quality time with their children, which is undoubtedly something every parent in Newtown needs right now. It’s with these things in mind, that I’m launching Drawn Together, a chance for us to use our passion for creativity to help, in a small way, to heal the community and children of Newtown, Connecticut.
The idea is to assemble at least 50 creative kits filled with art supplies that will be sent to the Newtown Youth & Family Services Center. This center is currently providing counseling and support services to the community and is accepting donations.
Each creative kit will include several items that can be incorporated into the work they are doing with the children and families of Newtown. The kits can also be sent home with children and used with parents to help process this event.
My goal is to assemble and send off the kits during the first week of January 2013.
Vendors, companies and individuals are all invited to donate new & unused supplies to be included in the creative kits. Below is the need list for completing each kit. To meet the goal, we’ll need at least 50 of each item. You do not need to donate all 50 though! Do what you can and we’ll chip away at this list together!
- Child-friendly stamps (wood-mounted preferred, since clear stamps require acrylic blocks)
- Black Ink Pads
- Plain white cardstock
- Colored cardstock
- Patterned Paper
- Small set of crayons
- Small set of markers
- Child scissors
- Watercolor or Acrylic paint
- Alphabet stickers
- Glue or Gluesticks
- 50 small canvas tote bags to package each kit
You can also donate dollars toward creating these kits. Every dollar donated will go toward purchasing supplies for the kits. If the money donated exceeds the amount needed for 50 kits, then we’ll make more! Donations will be open from today, December 16, 2012 through Friday, December 28, 2012. Donations are processed securely through Paypal. Simply click the button below to go to the donation page.
It would be nice to include a handmade card in each kit, don’t you think? Create a child-friendly handmade card and send it to me at the address listed at the end of this post. Send one, send ten! Any additional cards that don’t go into the kits will go directly to the Newtown Youth & Family Services center to be distributed. I imagine that children might like to choose a favorite card after their visit to the center. The center could also keep the cards for children who visit them in the future for other services. For themes on the cards, uplifting or all occassion sentiments might be the most appropriate (e.g. Thinking of you, You’re Special). We can’t be sure who these will reach. For the inside of the card, you can either leave it blank or sign it with your name and where you are from. Here are a few greeting card verses that may also be appropriate for the inside of your cards:
I’ve never ever done anything like this, mostly because I’ve never felt as heartbroken as I do about what happened in Newtown. Please share this with friends or companies who may also like to participate in some way. This blog is not a big one, but I’d like this to reach as many people as possible. I’d love your help with that. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…heck…send out carrier pigeons, I don’t care! Let’s work together and do what we can to help!
Grab the graphic below if you’d like to share this on the sidebar of your own blog
If you would like to donate supplies, please contact me first via email at:
Cards and supplies will be mailed to:
Amber Kemp-Gerstel/Drawn Together
P.O Box 310157
Miami, FL 33231-0157
Thanks to each of you for reading this post. I hope you’ll participate. I remember a professor once told me “There is no such thing as true altruism.” I agree. In part, I need to do this to help myself cope, but if my need to cope also helps a few children in Newtown, then I’m okay with that.