Using art to help kids tap into their creative side – Joplin Globe

Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:58 am


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PITTSBURG, Kan. Its been said painting helps people of all ages tap into their creative nature, creating art while putting aside their anxiety and fears.

A Crawford County man, Steven Humeida, is putting this art theory to the test not only in his own life but in the lives of children he comes into contact with in his role as a case manager for the Childrens Program at the Crawford County Mental Health Center.

Humeida has created a program involving art as a mental health treatment for children with behavioral health issues. Known as the Friday Art Club, the club is made up of smaller groups of children ranging from kindergarten to high school.

We do it on Friday nights because the kids have been in school all week, experiencing stress especially now during the pandemic, Humeida said. Its nice for them to relax and be themselves. Its very therapeutic and relaxing.

Getting started

The COVID-19 pandemic plays a role in Humeidas foray into art. Last summer, he and his wife, Kim, found themselves watching reruns of Bob Ross Joy of Painting each evening.

When Kim found a really nice art set for only $30 on a buy/sell/trade marketplace, the pair decided to give painting a try.

It was suggested to her to try to get into it, he said. I was sitting there, and thought I might as well do it with her.

The Bob Ross shows soon expanded into Pinterest ideas and YouTube videos. As they discovered new techniques, additional tools were added to their collection.

Humeida likes doing landscapes, starting first with sunset and sunrise images, then experimenting with different trees. He jokes the couple can purchase a 10-pack of canvases and have them filled within hours.

Helping children

Humeida began to consider bringing art to his clients after he discovered how it helped him relax and put away the stress of work, bills and adulthood.

The American Art Therapy Association states art therapy, or the use of art media and the creative process, helps clients explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.

For Humeida, art gives him a way to talk with students and help them not only build their creative side, but also find ways to work through behavioral issues, attention deficits and anxiety, among other issues.

Its amazing how the kids focus on it and really enjoy it, Humeida said. The last question they ask at the end of Art Club is what will we do next time.

Humeida uses the club as an incentive for good behavior. Students earn a spot in a Friday session based on reports from their parents and teachers.

Sometimes kids just need reminders of what they are looking forward to doing, Humeida said. It helps them follow directions, because they are trying hard to work towards a goal of earning a place in the art club.

Humeida said art has opened doors for students to talk with their parents and other adults, especially when they have a chance to show off a piece of their art on display.

Art allows kids to express themselves and be who they want to be, Humeida said. Its a fun way to work on their skills, plus its just relaxing. Its a fun way to work (on things) besides just sitting and talking to each other.

Art is also important, Humeida said, because its something that can be completed during the pandemic, unlike sports or other things which have been canceled because of social distancing requirements.

Its an extra thing, so kids have somewhere to go of their own, Humeida said. Personally, art has taught me patience. I paint a lot of nature scenes, its taught me to look at nature differently, to see a little more and to pay attention. It also gives me a way to forget everything related to work, bills, etc.

The art club sessions are geared toward all students receiving help from Crawford County Mental Health Services. Projects organized by Humeida began with painting on canvas. It has grown to include new techniques such as wood burning, marbling and pouring. During the Christmas season, Humeida helped students create their own ornaments.

Hes also teamed up with Michael Brennon, the Nature Preserve land coordinator, to incorporate some unusual mediums into the art club projects.

The Nature Preserve is a 40-acre property under development designed to give clients the healing benefits of nature in conjunction with traditional mental health therapies.

Humeida said the Nature Preserve has been instrumental during COVID-19 for patients to continue to receive mental health treatment in a safe, socially distant environment.

Using wood for projects allows students to find a piece of wood for their next project during a visit to the preserve. Most are created using round discs cut from fallen branches or limbs; however some students have used large pieces of bark as their medium.

While Humeida has a small budget to purchase art supplies, some of the funding has come from his pocket. The results make the efforts worthwhile.

I see a lot of positives, Humeida said. Students have positive interactions, manage their anxiety better and are able to focus. You start seeing I cant do this, into something they can do.

This builds more confidence in the students and helps them have a better self esteem. Art is fun, therapeutic and fun for me.

Did you know?

Art supplies may be dropped off at 411 E. Madison St., Pittsburg, Kan. Monetary donations may be made online at http://www.crawfordmentalhealth.org/donate-now. Crawford County Mental Health Center provides services to residents of Crawford County without regard for ability to pay and according to a sliding fee scale.

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Using art to help kids tap into their creative side - Joplin Globe

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December 16th, 2020 at 12:58 am

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