Annual art supply drive for youth begins | News, Sports, Jobs

Donna B. Jones

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO — This piece was done by a very young boy who has been struggling to discuss his neglect and abandonment. He didn’t like coming to his sessions, so after he completed this beautiful piece of artwork, YSS staff hung it in a space where he can see it when he comes. When he saw his artwork on display, it brought him pride that he has never felt before. Now he doesn’t think coming to his sessions is all that bad. He described his piece as a dinosaur dad, taking care of its baby dinosaur.

The Arts & Culture Alliance is kicking off its third annual art supply drive in partnership with YSS of Marshall County.

This year there is a special challenge for the community. West Marshall High School’s Student Philanthropy program, L.U.C.C. (Leading Uplifting our Community with Charity), has granted $1,000 toward the art supply drive and the community is asked to match those dollars. Each dollar donated up to $1,000 will be matched to help raise more than double what has been raised in the past few years.

The art supply drive began in 2020 when YSS was experiencing a 75% increase in therapy cases due to an increase in anxiety, stress and fear from COVID-19. Originally, the Arts & Culture Alliance anticipated this effort to be a one-time occurrence. However, the response and benefits that have transpired out of these art supplies has far exceeded expectations.

“We have countless stories of youth creating artwork while they are on their healing journey and the outcomes are stunning. You can visit YSS’s office in Downtown Marshalltown and find their walls decorated with artwork from their youth. Many of which who were previously struggling to attend therapy and programming, are now thrilled to participate due to the pride they feel from seeing their artwork on display,” said Amber Danielson, executive director of the Arts & Culture Alliance.

In 2022, from January to June, YSS has seen a 250% increase in clients coming in for medication management. Youth are especially vulnerable as they are often unable to naturally express how they feel verbally. However, therapists at YSS can connect with their feelings more effectively through creative means. Art provides an avenue to express how they feel through color and content. The value of art – written poetry, drawn pictures, etc., often says more than the spoken word, especially those with limited language.

Executive Director of YSS, David Hicks, said, “By supporting the Arts and Cultural Alliance’s art supply drive, you are providing a tool to which some of the most vulnerable will be able to safely communicate their worries and fears. Our young people will build hope and understanding through creativity. What’s often difficult to discuss, can be more easily relatable through art.”

The mission of YSS is to provide prevention, education, treatment and residential services to children, youth and families; to advocate on their behalf and to help them solve problems, grow and be self-sufficient, responsible, contributing members of society.

The Arts & Culture Alliance, a non-profit organization, was created in 2004 to cultivate a community of arts and culture by supporting, promoting and enriching existing opportunities and by seeking new possibilities. Our mission allows us to focus on enhancing the quality of life in Marshalltown by making it a place in which arts and culture thrive and the community flourishes.

To make a donation towards art supplies for YSS of Marshall County: Make checks out to Arts & Culture Alliance and send to PO BOX 386, Marshalltown, IA 50158. Online donations accepted at: www.artsandculturealliance.org/support (select Art Supply Drive).



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