The Juvenile Art Therapy Project provides a therapeutic resource and motivational mentor for children and young adults of the Evansville community who have struggled with poor decisions. The project was started by members of the classes of 2020 and 2019 at IU School of Medicine-Evansville and inspired by a similar program led by medical students Morgan Sandelski and Sheena Shah in Indianapolis. Since early march, we have held weekly sessions at the local juvenile detention facility – The Youth Care Center (YCC).
While working with the kids at the YCC it quickly becomes apparent that they all share one thing in common – hardship. Virtually every child at the YCC has been presented with very mature difficulties in their lives, often originating in the home, and due to their adolescence, they generally lack the mental fortitude to combat these hardships in a mature and responsible manner, resulting in immature and impulsive decisions that ultimately end their arrest and sentencing to the YCC. Our goal is to help these kids work through the respective life decisions that resulted in their introduction into the YCC through conversation and thought-provoking activities.
Thus far we have held 15 sessions at the YCC while working with 10 or more kids per session. We recently began working to help the USI nursing department incorporate this program into their pediatric curriculum and we are hopeful to have University of Evansville physician assistant (PA) students involved in the near future. We hope to organize the program in such a way as to offer a unique interprofessional opportunity for MD, PA, and nursing students in the Evansville area all of whom will ultimately be studying in the new IU School of Medicine Health Science Education and Research Center downtown just a few blocks away from the YCC.
“From the beginning, I thought that this program would be great for our facility and the kids that we serve, and there have been no disappointments,” said Marcus Head, executive director of the Youth Care Center. “It has been a true pleasure and blessing to have all of Andrew and Serena’s team of students and the nursing professionals that they have incorporated into the program to give back to our community the way that they have.”
By Serena Wright and Andrew Tharp