A creative arts therapy and reading program was offered to the children of Newtown ages 4 to 7 on Saturday, Jan. 12. Child and adolescent psychologist Amber Kemp-Gerstel along with child art psychotherapist and Darien resident Mary Pellicci Hamilton organized the program. The reading and art therapy activity was held at The C.H. Booth Library in Newtown.
This event offered a safe, fun and light-hearted place for children and families of Newtown to enjoy the routines of life that were shaken after the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, the organizers said. Each story was chosen for its meaning and symbolism and includes: “The Moose Belongs to Me”, “Dragons Love Tacos”, and “The Rainbow Fish.”
Dragons Love Tacos was chosen out of remembrance of one of the child-victims who loved eating tacos and aspired to be a taco restaurant manager, the organizers said. Following the reading, the children will participate in a creative arts activity that was inspired by NBC’s Ann Curry’s “26 Acts of Kindness,” which spawned a national movement sparked from this tragedy.
After the reading of the Rainbow Fish, the children will be encouraged to create their own rainbow fish, and give one of their own radiant colored fish scales to another participant to complete their magical creation. The acts of giving and support spun from this tragedy can be felt and witnessed by the enormous outpouring that spearheaded this project and so many others. As the author of the story, Marcus Pfister, explains, “The Rainbow Fish shared his scales left and right. And the more he gave away, the more delighted he became.”
Hamilton, a long-time Darien resident, is the owner of Art for Therapy, a Westport-based creative arts healing practice for children and adolescents as well as their families. Hamilton offers art therapy and play therapy as treatment approaches. As a child therapist, she believes that “art is a way for children to make sense of their chaotic worlds during the midst of crisis.”
Since children are naturally attracted to art and drawing, art therapy provides children with a natural therapeutic method of self-expression for healing and discovery, she said, and it allows for powerful expression and healing.
Kemp-Gerstel is the founder of Miami-based Drawn Together, an initiative which started through the her own passion for creativity as well as others’ need to help the children of Newtown following the tragic shooting.
“The abundant outpouring of donations has been truly remarkable,” Kemp-Gerstel said. “The crafting community has rallied together like I never anticipated… The response has been overwhelming and I’m excited to see how Drawn Together can reach other children in need, beyond those in Newtown.”
Register for this program at the Newtown Library’s website, chboothlibrary.org