West Philly nonprofit offers free therapeutic art services for parents, children

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The pandemic and winter weather have kept many, including children, at a standstill during most of their routines.

That includes in-person learning and extracurricular activities that keep kids at play.

One nonprofit in West Philadelphia is leading an effort to provide children with learning essentials to get them through this challenging year.

"We notice that, especially in our communities, there was a disadvantage when it comes to art outreach and programming," said Vanessa Young, creative director of Power of Paint Art Academy.

Young and her business partner, Teisha Brown, founded the organization as a way to offer therapeutic services throughout the Philadelphia region.

These services include art classes, youth mentorship, and mental health workshops for parents and children.

The services are free and are held on Zoom every week. Along with the materials needed, which are provided and delivered to participants' doors.

"I started out as a residential in a youth facility a couple of years ago," said Brown. "I noticed a lot of our children that were coming out of the DHS (Department of Health Services) system struggled with just expression and having safe spaces."

Brown, who is a nationally certified clinical counselor, hopes to reach more children and families, as the organization aims to keep morals and creativity running high amid the pandemic.

"When Vanessa and I got together, I was like 'You know using these therapeutic effort interventions, I know art therapy is a big thing,'" Brown added. "As an artist...being able to tie in a lot of those needs and provide that service because children struggle."

When the program first started around 2018, Young says there were only eight children.

In 2020, those numbers have grown to 1,500, with as many as 20 new registrations weekly.

As the program's participation numbers increase during the pandemic, Young says their focus is to continue helping families.

"If Teisha or myself got all the money in the world, we would probably still be doing the very same thing we do right now, honestly," she said.

Young adds the program also teaches the youth about entrepreneurship and the purpose of an LLC as another outlet to encourage their participants to brainstorm on bigger goals and ideas.
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