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DHS News February 2012    

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CYF East Regional Office creates an art space for children

Art SpaceReaching children through the arts is a time-tested method of encouraging expression and inspiring creativity, but the East Regional Office (ERO) of the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) has found a creative way to use art to make difficult times a little less difficult and a lot more fun.

Since November 2009, ERO Director Tammi Hilko, Ph.D., and the ERO staff have been using art to engage children. From its beginning as a vacant room and with a $100 donation, the ERO art studio has been turned into a cheerily decorated space, home to a variety of craft items including paint, crayons, colored pencils, beads, glitter, glue and Play-Doh.  Caseworkers are able to reserve the art room for any child or family they think might benefit from using the space. Most typically, the room is used by children having a scheduled visit with their biological family.

“We try to limit the rules in the studio to allow the children freedom.  The studio is open to children of all ages who show an interest, and while we may suggest ideas, the children are encouraged to choose the art for themselves,” said Hilko. “Many children come in thinking that they are not good at art; however, once you give them permission to be creative, they lose the fear and find themselves lost in the art.”

As a way to stimulate creativity and experimentation in the art studio, the ERO is holding an art contest; one randomly drawn artist and the most creative artist will each win a $25 gift card. Entries for the competition are still being accepted.

Hilko concluded, “We may not be creating the next Picasso (although who knows, we just might be), but it is nice to know that with just a few supplies and a bit of time we can add fun and imagination to the experiences of the children with whom we work.” 

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