Every Friday afternoon in Calvary’s Life Skills, Education and Art Program (LEAP), women can participate in a class called “Art Works.” Some afternoons women busily work on watercolor paintings. Other days, they may be creating miniature sculptures or designing a modern mobile to display in a common area.
The class gives women a chance to experiment with different materials and explore their creative sides in a relaxed setting. The Friday afternoon class can also be a welcome departure from more rigorous classes like “Math Practice” or “Typing Skills.”
On a deeper level, these arts-focused activities can open women up to a range of emotions and stimulate nonverbal expression. Research has found that creative activities can have a positive and healthy impact on individuals who have experienced trauma. One article states that simple arts activities “can help trauma victims calm down and release some of that mental tension” that exists in their brains.
In addition to classes on mental wellness, financial literacy, job readiness and other valuable skills, LEAP prioritizes classes like “Art Works” along with opportunities and field trips that expose women to the arts. Healing from trauma can be one of the first, most difficult, and most important steps for women transitioning out of homelessness. Sometimes without consciously knowing it, women are focusing on their mental health while creating arts and crafts.