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Beth113

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6 reviews

Review for Art Expression, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Last semester, I was excited to run an Art Expression after school program in a local middle school. On the first day of the work shop, I arrived in the art room early to set up the materials we would be using. At that time, a student approached me with some devastating news. She told me that a fellow student had committed suicide 2 weeks ago.
As parents and teachers, we all insulate ourselves against the pain that this kind of news brings. We imagine that no one we know could possibly feel badly enough to end his or her life. Yet, there I was, comforting this girl who had to come to terms with the suicide of a fellow class mate, a class mate not unlike her.
As sad as this was, I think that it really made me value the Art Expression Program even more than usual. I looked at these beautiful students with a different sort of awareness, thinking that it was possible for any one of them to feel suicidal. I wanted to shield them and let them realize their own worth.
Art Expression is the perfect program to accomplish these goals. In Art Expression, students get to express themselves with art media and then talk to each other and three caring adults,
Sadly, this is an experience that many kids don't get anywhere else. In Art Expression, students feel heard and supported. They are no longer alone. As one student put it: "Talking about my problems is a way to tame them."

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field
 

Review for Art Expression, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

You know that expression "The proof is in the pudding?" In the same way, I feel like the proof of the effectiveness of programming for kids can be gleaned from how the KIDS perceive the programming. And, I can tell you, the kids always perceive Art Expression as a positive and meaningful experience. I have been an Art Facilitator for Art Expression for 5 years and I know this to be true.

This is evident in a myriad of ways. Like when they enthusiastically burst through the door, asking "What are we making today?!" And, at the end of the period, they don't want to leave. Last semester, a girl said to me that she just wanted to stay there overnight and continue making art. And, a girl from a other group said that when she woke up that morning and realized it was the last day of Art Expression, she burst into tears.

You may be wondering what could be so compelling about this program that it elicits these dramatic responses. It's because it's a unique blend of all the right components: exciting art materials and projects, a good ratio between students and facilitators, the opportunity to socialize with peers and the complete freedom to make art anyway they like.

How they express that they value these components varies from one age group to another. A 13 year old boy told me "This is the singular most stress reducing time of my week!" While an 8 year old boy simply said "Art Expression rocks!' In any case, the vote is in - and Art Expression is clearly the winner.

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field
 

Review for Art Expression, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I am privileged to be an Art Facilitator for Art Expression. This week I started a work shop with a middle school group in Washington, Pa. As I was walking around the room, talking to students, I had a compelling conversation with one of them. She told me that 3 years ago she and her friend were in an Art Expression work shop. She said that they had collaborated on creating a sculpture. Since they both made the sculpture, neither one of them could claim total ownership of it. So what they did was to take turns housing it - two weeks at one girl's house and two weeks at the other girl's house. I was struck by how significant this memory was for her. Her face lit up with the glow of remembering this creative and significant experience,
In an era where social media rules and cyber bullies reign supreme, it was so refreshing to hear this child recall this heartfelt experience. And these sort of experiences happen all the time in Art Expression. I was reminded of this at the end of our session that day - when all 20 students eagerly took turns to stand in front of their peers and talk about the art they has just completed. The only thing more touching than the look of pride and achievement on their faces was the look of encouragement and support on the faces of their peers.
Art Expression provides ego support in a world where children often feel threatened, stressed out and not good enough. We need more Art Expression.

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field
 

Review for Art Expression, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Art Expression is a unique experience - it's easier to fully appreciate it when you see it in action. As an Art Expression facilitator, I do get to see it in action, so let me describe to you one of the priceless experiences that occurred last spring with a 4th grade student. By the end of our second class, he said to me "I never thought I was good at art but I am!" On the last day of our work shop, he confided to me that when he grows up, he wants to be an art teacher. Whether or not he becomes an art teacher is not the crucial point. The real point is that this work shop gave him the very priceless gift of experiencing SUCCESS. It's such a joy to see a child go from tentatively trying something to feeling really good about what he has done.
I get to see this sort of thing in every Art Expression Work Shop. The children are so animated, so focused, so joyful. These work shops are geared to enable every child to feel success. I really think that an experience of success is one of the most valuable things we can give to a child - it's a building block that can catapult him on doing better in all areas of his life.

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field
AMLowden (Nonprofit Staff) wrote:

Thank you so much for this thoughtful review and for your kind words about the organization. Your contributions to the success of our program have been immense and you continue to do such great work with the children. I really appreciate your taking the time to write this, as I appreciate all you do! It is a pleasure to have you as part of our team.

 

Review for Art Expression, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I am an Art Therapist, relatively new to Art Expression. Prior to working at Art Expression, I worked as an Art Teacher for the Pittsburgh City Schools and at The Children's Institute, a school devoted to Special Education students. During my career, I have been on both sides of Special Education - at The Children's Institute I worked exclusively with Special Education students, while at the Pittsburgh City Schools, I was called upon to practice "Inclusion" - that is to incorporate Special Ed. students into the "Mainstream" classes of students. One of the things I value most about Art Expression is how successful we are at Inclusion. A typical Art Expression after school work shop is comprised of 10 Mainstream children and 5 Special Ed. children. In all my years in this field, I have never seen Inclusion work as well as it does in Art Expression. I have so many examples of this - from a parent of a Life Skills student writing to us to say that her little girl was, for the first time, experiencing success in Art Making to an Autistic boy who went from communicating only by whispering to standing in front of the entire group and sharing what he had created. This is a program that plants a seed of success for these kids - it is truly an exemplary model for Inclusion.

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field
 

Review for Art Expression, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I am a former Art Teacher for the Pittsburgh City Schools and also for The Children's Institute, a school created to meet the needs of children who are challenged with special needs. Consequently, I have seen various attempts at "inclusion." The goal of inclusion is to have children with special needs feel good about participating in a program with "mainstream children." After all, how can a child learn to function in the "real world" when they are never interacting with children outside of their special ed. setting.
I can honestly say that I have never seen inclusion work as well as it does in Art Expression.
I can also say that every child who participates in Art Expression is getting invaluable gifts that are not available any where else - they are having unique opportunities to express themselves and to feel supported and less isolated. Planting these ego strengthening seeds is priceless and can change a child's life in ways that we can't even measure.
I was an Art Facilitator in this group last spring and I took away 2 images that have stayed with me. One was when my co-facilitator, their 3rd grader teacher, exclaimed that she has never seen her students "this focused." The second image was one of the kids writing on the board,"Art Expression Rocks!' I couldn't agree more.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

like to see it in more schools.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field