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Arts & Education Council funds St. Louis groups healing trauma

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A dozen organizations within the St. Louis area that use the humanities to assist folks cope with trauma will share $120,000 in grants from the Arts & Education Council.

Recipients embody Prison Performing Arts, Intercultural Music Initiative and St. Louis Artworks.

“These populations that they’re serving have dealt with a lot of trauma from various places. And you have to take unconventional paths to healing,” mentioned Jessireé Jenkins, grant and program supervisor at Arts & Education Council. “And many of those organizations have found out how to try this.”

The grant-maker distributed $115,000 within the first 12 months of its Arts and Healing Initiative, final 12 months. The group has funding for 3 extra rounds of annual grants to comparable groups.

The newest grant recipients additionally embody St. Louis Classical Guitar, a nonprofit group that gives music schooling to college students in St. Louis, Jennings, Hazelwood and the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

The Arts & Education Council funding will assist a brand new, 15-week program designed for younger adults coping with substance abuse, together with teenagers who’ve not too long ago been launched from Clayton Juvenile Detention Center.

Participants will study to construct and play their very own guitars, St. Louis Classical Guitar Executive Director Travis Lewis mentioned.

“It promotes mastery and accomplishment,” Lewis mentioned. “For a lot of kids who end up in the system, they haven’t had the opportunity to see something through to completion and actually have that work presented to the public.”

Participants will display their finished guitars in a local art gallery and have the chance to offer them for sale.

Bread and Roses Missouri will direct grant funds to its Workers’ Theater Project, which recruits working-class St. Louisans and uses theater to examine the roots of poverty and inequity in the St. Louis region.

The Angel Band Project links music therapists with survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Rustic Roots Sanctuary, a farm in Spanish Lake, will lead art projects at a local farmers market.

YourWords STL will use its grant to continue a project it launched in 2015, bringing together students at schools located north and south of the so-called Delmar divide in St. Louis — a physical boundary marking the gap in wealth and quality-of-life indicators created by generations of disinvestment from neighborhoods north of Delmar Boulevard. Housing segregation was enforced for decades by local officials, bankers and real estate developers through redlining and withholding loans from Black applicants.

Students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades convened by YourWords STL meet in small groups to write and share poetry. They also attend workshops and participate in discussions about race and identity.

“At the base of all of our programming is the idea that, if one can articulate oneself and feel heard, that there can be a real physical healing from trauma,” mentioned Anna Ojascastro Guzon, co-founder and program director of YourWords STL. “If young people can use language to get to know themselves and each other, we can bring about racial healing and also healing at the individual level.”

Past classes of this system have related college students at Parkway Northeast Middle School in Creve Coeur and Margaret of Scotland School in Shaw with college students attending St. Louis Catholic Academy in Penrose and Loyola Academy in Grand Center.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin