Today’s organization profile is Free Arts Minnesota. Free Arts Minnesota is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the healing powers of artistic expression into the lives of abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families. They are dedicated to healing young lives through artistic expression. Free Arts recognizes that abuse encompasses a wide range of experiences such as trauma caused by violence, neglect, poverty, and homelessness.
The first Free Arts for Abused Children in was founded by an art therapist in Los Angeles over 25 years ago. She was motivated by the theory that art and positive adult relationships are not a luxury for abused children, but a necessity. In 1997, Free Arts Minnesota began serving children in residential treatment centers, battered women’s shelters, and therapeutic pre-schools.
In Minnesota alone, there are more than 25,000 reports of child abuse each year, and one in four families are affected by physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. This abuse afflicts the most vulnerable in our society – about 80 percent of the victims are children under the age of 10. And each day, nearly 90 children are taken from their parent’s custody and added to an already over-burdened foster-care system. Abused children are often distrusting of adults, exhibit aggressive behavior or withdraw from their surroundings altogether, while others perpetuate violence on themselves or on other children. Most lack any sense of self-esteem. Free Arts programs seek to interrupt the cycle of violence. Through painting, drawing, music, writing, drama and other creative outlets, the program serves as a catalyst to help children communicate and express themselves in new – and positive – ways.
At-risk refers to children who have been abused, have witnessed abuse, have been removed from parental custody, or are otherwise deeply, emotionally troubled. At-risk children can come from any background, any religion, and tax bracket, anywhere. Free Arts Minnesota offers arts programming and mentorship to these at-risk children.
Art can be a retreat; a haven; a pressure release valve; a confidant. Artistic expression offers the chance to succeed without the fear of failure. It can be a sounding board for their frustrations and a blueprint for their dreams. “We’ve seen art heal children whom others have written off.”
They have served more than 10,000 children since their founding, but unfortunately, more than 5,000 remain on their waiting list.
The organization recently finished the Y.E.S to Art Singers Program, which is an initiative to expose singing, music and performance as artistic expression. School age and teenage children where brought together to learn more about the power of music and to the positive, empowering messages delivered in the songs. In three weeks time, the participating youth sang songs from Michael Jackson to Ben Harper and an original song written and performed by singer/songwriter Chris Koza from the band Rogue Valley. The program was presented at the University of St. Thomas on July 29th with resounding success. The youth themselves were able to work through barriers and hesitations about singing or performing and find self-esteem through bringing their voices to audiences and meeting the challenges of their personal barriers.
So, what can you do to help?
Free Arts Minnesota provides many ways for you to harness and further your talents and passions.
- Weekly mentorship program (they are currently seeking volunteers for this program which will start at the end of September).
- Helping out in the office in a short term or long term capacity.
- Serving on a committee for fundraisers to solicit donations and gifts or to organize an art supply drive.
- Internships involving a 10-20 hour-a-week commitment depending on the internship position. Internship programs include: program, marketing, development and graphic/web.
- Check out their Featured Volunteer Opportunities found on their website each month.
- You can also donate items listed on their current wish list.
You can find out more and connect with Free Arts Minnesota below:
Office Location: 400 1st Ave N, Suite 518, Minneapolis, MN 59401