For Children and Families Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

HAZLET, NJ – In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, now more than ever, families in Monmouth County need strength. An example of the Creative Coping Program offered by 180 Turning Lives Around was seen at a recent event led by the Amanda’s Easel Creative Arts Therapists, aimed a promoting family well being for New Jersey Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month: Strengthening Families. A resource fair and program of healing arts activities took place on Thursday, April 18, at the Joseph R. Bolger Middle School in Keansburg.

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At the event, 180’s Amanda’s Easel Creative Arts Therapy Program led a healing arts activity for families which focused on nurturing effective problem-solving and communication skills. Keansburg and the Bayshore area were chosen for the event because it is a community that was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy and continues to experience high levels of stress.

The activities led by credentialed art therapists were designed to be success-based to help children and their parents copy with distress.  A demonstration by The Traumatic Loss Coalition of “Rainbow Dance: Community Based Intervention,” used structured expressive behavioral activities to help increase hope, self-esteem and adaptation after disasters. Rainbow Dace will be offered at Amanda’s Easel for children and teens this summer.

Amanda’s Easel used an activity that was created by the New Jersey Art Therapy Association’s program, Jersey Coast Creates, to provide families impacted by disasters with structured art activities emphasizing creative expression for promoting safety, fostering social connections, and instilling hope. Families were invited to make artist trading cards the size of a baseball card, about who they feel connected to in their lives. The task was designed to help families under stress communicate with each other about their care-giving needs and to promote bonding.

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“This activity is an example of the kind of program we run at Amanda’s Easel. Making art together as a family can be a great way to connect and help reduce feelings of stress and isolation,” explained Laura Greenstone, Assistant Coordinator for Amanda’s Easel and the event coordinator. She added,” Programs offered by Amanda’s Easel directly engage parents and children in ways that promote family strengths in a safe, non-judgmental environment.”

“180 Turning Lives Around encourages all individuals to play a role in making Monmouth County a better place for families,” said Anna Diaz-White, executive director of 180 Turning Lives Around. “By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect.”

Research show that five important factors are present in healthy families. Promoting these factors is among the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. They are:

  • Nurturing and attachment
  • Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete supports

180 Turning Lives Around, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families’ Division of Family and Community Partnerships – a state agency built on the Strengthening Families: Five Protective Factors – focuses on creating supports to help parents provide a healthy, safe and loving environment for their children.

“We must celebrate the important role that communities serve in protecting children,” continued Diaz-White.  “Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to promote the five protective factors, in every interaction with families, is the best thing our community can do to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.”

For more information about Amanda’s Easel’s free Creative Coping program for children over the age of 6 and their families, as well as 180’s other programs, including counseling and case management with clinicians experienced in trauma and disaster, call 732-787-6503.