Georgia Center for Child Advocacy

Journals at Georgia Center for Child Advocacy

This is a guest post written by Paint Love volunteer Sierra Kazin. She is an art education major at Kennesaw State University.

When I volunteered with Paint Love at the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, I worked with girls ranging from 12 to 15 years old. Since I love working with people and I love making art I felt very comfortable- it was the perfect opportunity for me to get involved in my community and I felt welcomed by the Paint Love staff. That day we had the opportunity to decorate journal covers so that the girls could use them for school and/or personal use. We were provided an array of materials and we took turns listening to each other’s favorite kind of music! I learned a lot about each of the girls and they made my experience hilariously awesome! After working with Paint Love, I left with a full heart. The time I spent with the girls and learning about their lives was truly inspiring. Since then, I have looked into art therapy as a potential career path, in hopes to one day help others through art. I absolutely love how art can become a medium for expression, self-growth, and strength. By working with Paint Love I learned that self-growth also relies on the growth of others. At the end of the day, these girls proved to me how kids or students can be our greatest teachers!

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Self Expression Boxes with Zully Conde at Georgia Center for Child Advocacy

During my first week of Paint Love, I didn't really know what to expect of all of our events. I knew we had amazing artists, partners, and projects, but I wasn't aware of how well they all work together! 

My first event was at the Georgia Center for Chid Advocacy with the fabulous, Zully Conde leading our art project. Zully had requested wooden boxes, modge podge & magazines paper. I assumed it would be a cool project for the kids to use their creativity and decorate some boxes. However, both Zully and the kids exceeded my expectations. 

As we all can relate, sometimes how we present ourselves to the world, doesn't always align with who we really are on the inside. We are all complex creatures, yet sometimes, whether through society's views or our own view of ourselves, we can be boxed in certain categories. 

This can be especially true of children, as they try to create and understand who they are as an individual. We used the boxes as a representation of self, the outside of the box, portraying other's perception of us, while the inside was used to express our true selves. The kids took this idea and completely made it their own. Seeing these kids explore their identity at such a young age was beautiful. 

I saw one child who decorated her box with the statement “your scars make you beautiful.” This statement could be a testament to resilient cognitions. Using them in an art format can really help children internalize these kinds of messages since they are interacting with them in a physical way rather than just saying or writing them down.
— Rebecca Ahmadi, Psychotherapist at Georgia Center for Child Advocacy

I got to stick around afterwards and see these kids show their boxes to parents and siblings. Seeing how proud they were of their creations, made me realize just how important the daily work at Paint Love is. After seeing how this event went, I'm convinced I have the best job in all of Atlanta! ;) I'm so excited to begin my journey working with Paint Love.

Safe Space Eggs at Georgia Center for Child Advocacy

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Caitlin Martin led this sweet Easter themed craft at the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. The students got to paint and decorate their egg and use air-dry clay to create a little creature to live inside it. We talked about safe spaces, and what makes us feel safe while we turned the eggs into cozy homes for colorful turtles, dinos, and birds- complete with soft beds and handmade clay teddy bears! 

We love working with the kids from the GCCA. Their organization provides counseling, community, and support to children and families who have experienced abuse. While the kids are engaged in the Paint Love project, they often offer workshops for parents and then once everyone is finished, the groups join back together - the kids excitedly showing off their projects- and then everyone shares a meal provided by the incredible staff. 

There are so many things to appreciate about Paintlove, but what strikes me the most is the way the organization brings the power of creativity and self-expression to touch the lives of children who have been hurt or are vulnerable to their circumstances in our community. I can think of few activities that are as empowering and healing as inviting a person to bring themselves into the external world through their art. It is a joy to partner with this organization both personally and professionally.
— Rebecca Ahmadi, therapist and counselor at GCCA