RSU 10 educators, staff, and FRV board member John Beliveau met with ArtVan’s founder, Jamie Silvestri, and Julianna Nelson, the therapeutic art assistant, to express the need for supportive and creative resources for area youth. ArtVan’s mission and mobile art therapy program aligned with the area’s need to “focus on developing positive social skills, life skills, good decision-making, and resilience. Participating in Art Therapy provides a safe and tangible outlet for underlying thoughts and feelings. Anti-social behaviors, such as theft, drugs, alcohol, and risky sexual behavior, are less likely to occur where safe outlets and opportunities for self-expression are available.”
FRV provided funding to implement the programs and, in January 2022, ArtVan began serving the Western Foothills Regional Program (WFRP – alternative school), primary to 12th grade, with a total of about 36 students. Crystal Duguay, LCSW/Director of WFRP, stated, “we have been wanting to bring an art therapist here for years.” Crystal enthusiastically arranged with her teachers three 60-minute art therapy sessions every Tuesday. ArtVan has successfully led programs for one month and plans to begin at RSU10’s Middle School on March 1st for an afterschool program. FRV and ArtVan are discussing providing summer Art Therapy programs for area youth.