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Pathways Students Find a Mental Getaway Via Virtual Art Projects


By Jeanne Neuwirth, LCSW Clinician & SADD Club Advisor for Pathways

According to choreographer Twyla Tharp, "Art is the only way to run away without leaving home."

Let's face it, many of us are flat-out tired of sheltering in, but about three dozen Carteret High School students managed to escape via art projects on three different afternoons this month.

According to scientists, creating art is important for remaining healthy. It makes us feel connected to ourselves and the world, lowers stress, and helps us imagine a more hopeful future.

In an effort to find ways to connect students during this isolating time, Pathways of Carteret High School joined forces with Dibble and Dabble Creativity Center and Blazing Star Cultural Arts Center to provide wonderful creative arts experiences that students accessed virtually via Zoom over their phones and computers.

With the guidance of Dibble and Dabble owners Jezenia and Edie, ten students created a beautiful painting entitled, "The World Will Bloom Again." Students donned old t-shirts as smocks, and visibly relaxed as they painted sunflowers with the earth at the center.

The following week, Blazing Star Intern Navjot Panchhi patiently led a group of students through the steps to create a peace crane via the ancient art of origami. This proved to be more challenging! But the students persisted and had some laughs along the way.

Most recently, a group of students participated in a workshop entitled "Drawn From Within" with New York City artist Ben Ponté. Ben focuses on what happens to the body, mind, and imagination when engaged in drawing, shifting the focus to the process of drawing rather than the end product. This shift makes art more available to everyone, rather than only to those who consider themselves artists.

Pathways has found art to be a wonderful way to help students connect and relax. These workshops were so well received that Pathways is looking into repeating them with new groups of students. We are currently exploring a virtual Circus Arts workshop as well.

A special thank you to Central Jersey Arts Council and Lindsay Erben for funding both the origami workshop and the drawing workshop, as well as a recent workshop on poetry/spoken word.

Pathways School Based Youth Services Program provides virtual telehealth mental health services to the students of Carteret High school as well as virtual recreational groups, and resources via Google Classroom. Follow us on Instagram @Pathwayssbys and Facebook. Contact Jeanne Neuwirth (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for more information.

All artists, whether they know it or not create from a place of inner stillness, a place of no mind.

—Eckhart Tolle

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