Recently, I was talking with a group of young people ages 8 to 13. Every one of them acknowledged that they had heard gunfire in their neighborhoods, and all knew someone who had been harmed by gunfire.
These youth live in fear every day, as do many others in our community. Community leaders talk about ways to make our community safer, yet children still live in fear.
Research shows that children who grow up living in fear tend to become perpetrators of violence themselves. We must find ways to address their trauma beyond simplistic no-tolerance policies.
As both an artist and a mental health therapist, I want to express my gratitude to an unlikely source that has provided me opportunities to reach out to youth affected by trauma.
Through Arts In Stark grants to three different community organizations, I have been able to encourage youth toward resilience instead of violence, providing them with the means to express themselves creatively and productively. I believe that to redirect a child’s hurt, you must believe in that child, and to believe in them, you must support their creative instincts. Arts In Stark has provided numerous opportunities for me and other artists to do just that.
You may think that supporting the arts is a frivolous thing in light of the major financial crises currently facing our communities. When you look at the stellar programs supported by Arts In Stark throughout the community, however, you will realize how critical its efforts are to Stark County.
Enhancing community development through downtown revival efforts, supporting programs that redirect at-risk youth and promoting creative education in numerous school districts, Arts In Stark has stimulated growth that many thought was not possible.
When you believe in the arts, you believe in your community. I urge you to believe in the arts by supporting the 2009 Fund for Arts In Stark.
Vicki Boatright, Canton, OH