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From Anger to Eager: Transformation at Van Asselt Elementary

April 11, 2016. By

At the beginning of Draw It Out club at Van Asselt Elementary, many kids wanted out. They were hesitant to share their thoughts after completing pages from the book or creative expression activities, and they had trouble building trust. These students have difficulties in social situations or with emotional regulation, and they showed their reluctance through behavioral issues, including walking around the room, hiding beneath desks, and arguing and teasing.

Ten weeks into the program, it was time for the students to decide whether to continue Draw It Out club for another eight weeks.

As “phase one” drew to a close, students focused in pairs to make watercolor mandalas together. Peter, a shy eight-year-old who lost his father last year, said that he chose to work with green and yellow because green made him feel calm, and yellow made him feel excited.

“I feel calmer after I make art,” he said, looking up from behind his glasses, lopsided smile on his face.

During the discussion time, Lacie, the group’s facilitator, asked students what they’d learned about themselves during phase one. Terrance, a gregarious eleven-year-old, said, “I learned to work with new materials I didn’t know about.”

Terrance has been through a lot recently. His uncle survived a shooting and his dog, who had thirteen puppies, bit him after he tried to get close to them. Terrance also told us that three of the puppies had died: Soldier, Max, and Mary.

Terrance thought for a moment, then added, “I learned how to express myself in many ways I didn’t know before.”

Working together to create mandalasAs recently as last week, another student, Jamie, had wanted to quit Draw It Out club. He had trouble focusing and making art. He’d leave the room or be disruptive during activities. But on this day, he said, “I used to think art was boring, but not anymore!” His eyes scrunched up as he grinned at the group.

In the last minutes of the session, the children cast their votes. They didn’t know it, but all of the adults in the room were holding their breath as they waited for the kids to turn in their slips of paper and say goodbye.

And when the votes were in, eight out of eight said yes! Here’s to eight more weeks of healing.