Art2Heart 2018


Jessica Bleakley

Local organization

JCI Eastern

National organization



Jessica Bleakley


From August 4 to 25, 2018


Primary School aged students from the local community in particular those who come from difficult backgrounds, socially isolated, struggle with mental health and or physical / developmental impairments and show an interest in art.

Target population


Target avg age


People impacted


Sustainable Development Goal

Good Health and Well-Being

Development stage

Health and Wellness


To encourage primary school aged students to see the world through the lens creativity. Through the process of working with professional artists students are encouraged to learn to use their involvement in creative pursuits to practice mindfulness, self regulation and as a positive distraction from difficulties and emotions. Students also benefit from their integration into the program with advancement in their personal build self esteem, confidence and as a vehicle to introduce and build on social skills and team orientated activities which many of the students involved would normally struggle with.


The program ran over a series of four weekend sessions each for 2 hours, students were invited from the local community to participate through a combination of social media and relationships build with local primary schools. The participants were led by local artists to work on both individual and collaborative projects including large scale tape artwork, drawing, oil pastels, collage using recycled and renewable materials.


The program was successful on a number of fronts, the students were exposed a variety of different art forms and had the opportunity to engage and work with professional artists from within the local community. The bonds of friendship formed between both students with other students and between students and adults volunteers was exciting to see unfold throughout the sessions.

Some of my observations include; the interaction between the students dramatically improved as the sessions went on, those who initially were reluctant to talk with others, join in with the artwork or even maintain eye contact with the volunteers and artists became more self aware, confidant and interactive. Several of the students were unable or unwilling to participate in the sessions without a parent being present however by the final session these students were happy to participate and the parent was able to leave for some much needed re charge time. The opportunity to allow these parents time away from their child knowing they were in a safe, encouraging environment was significant as some had not ever had this opportunity due to their child's difficulties. The capacity of volunteers in their ability to interact, care for and relate to the students increased dramatically throughout the sessions and the opportunity to engage with students who are often isolated, judged or deemed to be too much work was rewarding and challenging for all involved.


It is my recommendation that JCI Eastern continue to run his program using the knowledge and learning from the past few years to continue to grow and strengthen this program. The tangible outreach potential to the local community is incredibly worthwhile, the support offered to students and their families, the opportunity for JCI Eastern to be know in the community and also the potential to invite and include new non - members to help plan and run this program are all advantageous outcomes.

The sustainability of this program could be addressed by collaborating with a local organization who works with children of this age group and demographic, this could assist JCI Eastern in providing volunteers with specific expertise in working with children in particular those with the specific needs often found in participants who join the program. The partnership could also prove to be an effective way of linking those who most would benefit from involvement with the program to JCI Eastern and would be beneficial in connecting the team to the local community. The assistance this partnership could potentially offer in regards to the planning and execution of the program would also be worth consideration.

Another aspect of the program that could be improved would be to find suitable an ongoing grant / financial support as the program is currently offered to participants without cost and securing support for its funding would be of great assistance.

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