The Healing Arts Program at SPY gives youth a safe environment for creative expression. Homeless youth come from a wide variety of traumatic backgrounds, and when given the chance to create art and express themselves in a safe, supported and judgement-free space, they have the opportunity to heal from trauma they may be carrying with them. Art allows our young people the opportunity to recognize feelings, connect to their identity, build self-esteem, develop self management and improve impulse control, identify and label feelings, increase attention to detail, and improve and learn about decision making. Creative self-expression is a core component to an individual's social and mental health, both because of the skills that are learned, and the healing that takes place. A recent USC study found that youth who participate in the Healing Arts program at SPY are more likely to pursue other programming, making it a gateway to education and employment opportunities, case management, therapy and supportive services, and permanent housing.
The Art Studio is open 3 days a week during drop-in hours, offering an open studio setup, that includes supplies for painting, drawing, clay, and many other mediums. Dependent on the generous donations of supplies that come from private members of the community and local businesses, the Art Studio remains prepared for any creative endeavor an individual might wish to pursue. Paintings and other projects line the white walls of the studio, featuring recent creations of anyone who wishes to hang their art for public display.
The Healing Arts program relies on volunteer facilitators from the community and local organizations to share their skills, talents and expertise by leading skills based workshops, therapeutic sessions and experiential learning opportunities including painting, jewelry making, clay, creative writing, mixed media and music and more. Experiential Learning opportunities include local museum trips, photography field trips and the opportunity to participate in art shows and music performances. Last April, SPY youth artists created and produced SPY’s first art show.
The Healing Arts Program at SPY also includes weekly drop-in meditation sessions. SPY is incredibly fortunate to be in partnership with skilled facilitators from InsightLA, who has provided Mindfulness Meditation for both youth and staff, and Against the Stream. Other healers and meditation instructor from the community lead varying types of healing sessions, as well. Entering the Art Studio at anytime, you are likely to find half the room dedicated to a sitting circle, where youth members are welcome to sit, seeking a moment of silence or respite. Mediation is proven to decrease pain, support the immune system, and increase one’s ability to cope with mental and emotional challenges.
Yoga and Movement
Yoga sessions occur on a weekly basis, giving youth the opportunity to practice strengthening mind-body connection, deep breathing and physical activity. Partnerships with local studios bring in donations of yoga props and skilled yoga teachers, who focus on relevant aches and pains that youth members feel. Movement programming also includes Tai Chi, taught by a youth member of SPY and dance classes, taught by local teachers. Movement is important in decreasing stress and integral in creating a connection to the body.
Music plays an incredibly large role in the lives of the youth individuals who participate in the Healing Arts Program at SPY, from headphones, to small portable speakers, to singing and dancing. To support these musical desires the Healing Arts Program has hosted open mic, jam sessions and songwriting sessions, in partnership with local organizations, businesses in the field and music professionals. Weekly drumming sessions allow for a meditative and group collaborative experience, increasing the ability to relax and focus. Music plays a large part in emotional control and regulation, and allows for an alternative method of communication and expression.
The Healing Arts Program at SPY partner organizations include UCLA Creative Minds, UCLArts and Healing, Venice Arts, Venice Playa Rotary Club, The Hammer Museum, InsightLA and many more.