Rachel Barlow, Using Art To Help Heal

Rachel and Jon and the art kits.

I remember hearing a story about the Shakers.  It was during the Depression and this one community found that people were stealing vegetable from their gardens.  Understanding that the people who were stealing their vegetable were hungry, they responded to the theft  by planting more vegetables the next year.

This is what I’m reminded of when I see what Rachel has done with her art kits.  Hers is a creative solution to one of the many problems facing our country today.  By opening her heart instead of closing it down in fear and anger, she is showing her soul by giving in a way that speaks directly from her own life experience.

I am continually impressed and inspired by Rachel Barlow.  She is one of those creative people who doesn’t let anything get in her way. She just keeps at it.

And now on top of her already very  busy life, (you can read all about it here on her blog My Sketchy Life) she’s come up with a way to give kids who are new to this country or are living in foster care, a way to express themselves creatively.

Rachel knows, from her own life experience, how important art has been to her own personal  healing.  So she’s put together art kits for kids in need, hoping that it may help them process and deal with the traumas they may be facing.

Each kit is a  bag  filled with coloring books, a sketch pad, colored pencils and a pencil sharpener,  watercolors and a list of area art museums and when it’s free to visit them.

She’s already raised a few thousand dollars to assemble the bags and has been distributing them to refugee children and  children in foster care.

Today Jon and I went to Rachel’s house to help her assemble 90 bags that we’ll take to Risse.  (She usually gets her kids to help her assemble the bags.)

Risse is  a refugee center in Albany, where people new to the United States can come together to take classes, learn English, and get the help they need  to acclimate to their new country.   It also has an after school program for the children.  Jon has been taking pictures of the people there and telling their stories.  He’s also helped Rachel raise money for the art kits that we’ll  bring to Risse tomorrow.

Our responses to the injustices that we see around us  don’t have to come wrapped in anger.  The don’t have to be grand gestures, or hateful rhetoric.    They can be simple, individual, generous acts that touch  one person at a time.  Sometimes all we can do.  But so much better than the fear, anger and frustration that might otherwise fill our hearts and not only be useless to others, but also cause harm to ourselves.

You can read more about Rachel’s Art Kit program and contribute to it here.




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