MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- St. Christopher’s, Inc., a local organization dedicated to helping teens with emotional, behavioral and learning disabilities, opened its first on-campus Art Show to recognize National Mental Health Month.
The exhibit features artwork made by students and residents of St. Christopher’s, including nine from its Jennie Clark Campus in Valhalla.
More than 100 pieces of artwork from close to 120 students are on display, ranging from paintings to drawings. The festival will remain open until Monday, May 26 and will be held at the Old Executive Mansion on campus.
Studies have shown that art has been a healing force for people with mental disorders and can contribute to psychological well-being of individuals.
“Art is extremely important to the children and teenagers we work with daily,” said Dana Jaroszewski, art/photography instructor at St. Christopher’s. “It builds self-esteem and allows them to use art as an outlet to deal with underlying issues. My classes are not an art lesson, but more of a therapeutic session.”
In one particular incident, Jaroszewski recalls a piece of artwork done by one of the autistic students from the St. Christopher’s Valhalla location. Usually quiet and reserved, he would spend art class rocking back and forth in his chair, not doing much more than drawing a line or scribble on the paper. When no one was looking one afternoon, he painted the word “Home” on his canvas.
“When our staff hears a story like this, it becomes clear that art has become a beneficial tactic to allow students to feel comfortable with expressing themselves,” said Robert Maher, CEO. “We are proud of all of the projects that will be in the exhibit and hope that the children feel a sense of pride when they see their works hanging for all to see.”