The healing power of art

By Thomas O Kelley

The healing power of art has been recognized for millennia. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art is therapeutic because “the creative process of art is both healing and life—enhancing.” In this view art helps young and old to cope better with stress, and work through traumatic experiences such as the loss of a loved one and “to just enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of the creative process.”

We have all been aware of the Iraq War for the past several years and, at least indirectly, of the terrible toll it has taken on the children of Iraq.

In 2005, the Eastside Friends became aware of the art therapy program in Iraq that supported traumatized children. The Friends decided to join in by sending art supplies. However, by 2007 it had become too difficult to get art supplies into Iraq and so they contacted a program in Jordan that provided art opportunities for Iraqi refugee children. Eastside Friends adopted the motto, “Using art to touch and connect children and youth to one another.

This past Sunday, September 21, a United Nations—inspired International Day of Peace Program was held here at Bellevue Community College. The activities ranged from a Peace Dove parade to a concert by folk singer Dana Lyons. The Eastside Friends were present with two unusual booths. One booth had Eastside children making picture greeting cards with peace greetings to be sent to Iraqi refugee children at a school in Amman, Jordan. One card read,

“Peace from heart to heart and mind to mind and hand to hand.”

The second booth featured picture greeting cards that were made by Iraqi refugee children in Jordan for sale here at $2.00 each. The proceeds will go to buy more art supplies to be sent to refugee centers for children in Jordan. For more information on the art therapy project, please contact the Eastside Friends Meeting,