ARTreach has concluded a 10 week pilot program supporting children at risk at the Helping Hand Home for Children in Austin, Texas with a student presentation held on Monday, November 23rd at 4 pm.
The ARTreach program is being developed by artist Dan Egger Belandria specifically to support the education and social development needs of children at risk and in foster care. Called The Rhythm Journey, it is a powerful experience that teaches rhythmic collaboration as well as the art of self expression. When working with children who have not been previously exposed to music or drumming, Dan uses a call and response technique to develop the group’s drumming vocabulary while emphasizing key learning points around team and relationship building. This is a hands-on approach to building self esteem, while breaking down barriers within a group to create a shared vision that is interactive and rewarding.
Helping Hand Home applied for an ARTreach Program and was selected for the pilot because they are a residential treatment facility for children ages 5-12 and in the foster care system. ARTreach is a non-profit arts organization that helps bring the arts to children at risk who may not otherwise experience the arts as a part of their lives. The children living at the Helping Hand Home are undergoing treatment for emotional and behavioral issues related to abuse and neglect. They are considered at risk for a variety of factors, and those selected to participate in the pilot represent a range of special needs. Most of the children involved have never been given the opportunity to experience drumming or music on a teaching level. This program pilot was made possible in part thanks to a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.
The goal of the ARTreach pilot was to demonstrate the impact drumming techniques can have on the child’s ability to cope with anxiety, anger and or depression. It was also set up to measure the impact of weekly encounters with expressive art and music making methods would have on a child’s ability to interact and or socialize. Helping Hand Home staff was able to document improvements in individual behavior and test scores recorded in the first term, compared to the second term. Three of children who participated in the pilot were selected at random at the end of the pilot and their records were reviewed. Two out of the three showed improvements in test scores and overall grades during the 10 week period as well as significant reductions in behavioral infractions recorded over the same time period that could be attributed in part to this program. All children who participated in the culminating presentation showed significant improvement in attitude and self esteem, and described a unit bond, affirmed friendships and confidence gained as a result of this program.
In facilities that treat foster care children who are victims of abuse, programs that support education and socialization, and nurture a child’s sense of belonging in our society are valuable. ARTreach pilots like this demonstrate the high impact the arts will have on this neglected population if funding were readily available.
ARTreach has been documenting improvements in social behavior and grades linked to creative art experiences since 2003. While art and music programs that include supplies, instruments and professional teachers can be expensive, art programs are much less expensive than conventional adaptive behavior therapies, and combining creative art practices with math and reading curriculum are extremely effective in improving test scores and overall grades than standard teaching methods. ARTreach Programs prove over and over again that the arts fundamentally support a child’s emotional development and improved ability to learn. Early and consistent exposure to the arts can help insure a child’s future as a creative and productive member of our society. The Arts needs to be a part of every child’s life!
Because Art Works! Please encourage and support the arts. Contact your legislator and make sure they support the arts in education and health and human services in Texas. Make a donation today to support art and educational outreach in your community. www.artreachonline.org