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Newtown, CT Update

July 23, 2013. By
5th graders at Sandy Hook use our grief workbook after the tragedy

After the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT left 20 children and six adults dead, Art with Heart connected with several locals to see how we might be able to help and sent sample books for them to review. Townspeople saw the value in helping children through this unique medium and were open to receiving them.

And so, thanks to donors like you, we were able to create and donate custom workbooks entitled Make Your Mark – a “frankensteining” of specific pages from two of our therapeutic books that could help their children. When the books arrived, the town had already been inundated with gifts as people all over the world joined in mourning their loss. The number of gifts quickly filled a 20,000 square foot warehouse.

Knowing we didn’t want the books to be lost in the avalanche of generosity, we patiently waited. And so it wasn’t until recently that the books actually began being used by the therapists at Newtown Youth & Family Services – the agency providing the bulk of the support services to those impacted by the tragedy.

In the meantime, we scheduled in-person visits and flew in mid-March to listen to the needs of town officials, therapists, educators and activists, and shared our methods. One of the key people we met was Sarah Roman Rarh, Chief Marketing Officer of the Taunton Press, and founder of The Taunton Press Newtwon Children & Families Fund. Sarah started the fund in order to support strategies that address the needs of those affected by the shooting, focusing especially on mental health and well-being. She told us:

“When I first saw “Make Your Mark” and “Ink About It” after the 12/14 shooting in my hometown, I knew that Art with Heart was serious about helping children and young adults learn how to express the wide range of emotions that follow traumatic events.

“In the months since, we’ve distributed boxes of books to teachers, school counselors, area therapists, religious leaders, kids and parents, all of whom have raved about the books. The folks at Art with Heart have been amazing. Their vision, dedication, care and thoughtfulness permeates everything they do.”

Last month, another tragedy befell the community when a 13-year old passed away. His friends and family faced even more loss, anger, and sorrow. But Sarah and her friend Jenifer Vaughn, knew exactly what to do. They quickly arranged for more Make Your Mark books, as well as Chill & Spill and Ink About It books to be sent to one of the counselors at Newtown Middle School. Sarah’s fund underwrote the donation to support the child’s friends. When counselor Kate MacKinney received the books, she immediately saw the benefit and wanted more.

And so, over 70 adolescents are now benefiting from using creativity to help heal their compounding wounds through the use of Art with Heart’s healing books. The counselor was so thrilled at the donation, she even made mention of it in the school’s Newsletter.

In the meantime, plans are still under way to bring training to the therapists and school counsel0rs, as well as additional therapeutic books to the children and teens still suffering in Newtown and the surrounding communities. As we move forward, we will keep you informed. Thank you again for your support.

If you would like to help, please donate online or send a check to Art with Heart, P.O. Box 94402, Seattle, WA 98124-6702.