Imagine yourself in a courthouse waiting room- the air is full of uncertainty, confusion and the sharp smell of glue. Social workers and lawyers are interviewing their clients all around you, struggling to be heard over the bailiffs yelling case numbers and the cries of family members saying their goodbyes. In the middle of all this, you find a haven of art and creativity.
Free Arts’ courthouse program serves over 20,000 children each year, helping them to find hope and strength in their journey ahead through art. One project, the Dream House, which asks children to think of what their dream house would be like - from the neighborhood it’s in, to the kind of furniture they’d like, to how many pools they’d want - stood out to a child named Kayla (age 7).
“Kayla was always quiet and kept to herself. She didn’t seem to want to participate in the art activities in front of her. Being concerned, a Free Arts volunteer asked Kayla questions about her dream house, but Kayla didn’t answer. The volunteer continued to give Kayla genuine attention and care, asking her different questions to help Kayla imagine her dream house. Finally, Kayla said, “I’d want to have 9 kitchens.” Curious, the volunteer asked her why she’d need so many kitchens. Kayla began opening up more about her love of cooking, especially with her entire family when they can all be together. Kayla wanted to make sure that each member of her family had their own kitchen so they could cook a giant feast together every Sunday.
After Kayla was done with the activity, her mother came up to the volunteer. The mother confided that she had never seen Kayla talk that much since their family was split up two years ago. She has put her daughter through countless types of therapy and programs at school and no one has been able to get through to Kayla. The mother thanked the volunteer for showing Kayla kindness and patience. Sometimes that’s all children need- for someone to be curious and inspire them to express themselves in an artistic way.”