2023 Art + Mentors = Resilience Conference, Creating Compassionate Connections

On April 29th, Free Arts held its Art + Mentors = Resilience Conference in person for the first time in three years! We are grateful for our conference sponsor BHHS Legacy Foundation, which helped to make the conference possible. Our theme was “Creating Compassionate Connections,” and the activities sought to demonstrate and deepen knowledge about how transformative art and mentorship support children and teens who have experienced abuse, neglect, and/or homelessness. Our theme encompassed three words: creating compassionate connections– each of which illustrates excellent examples of ways that we know we can build hope in a young person’s life. As our conference shows, combining all three is magic!

A few of our teaching artists graciously hosted our interactive activities. The day started with “Buckets of Fun” presented by Mario Barela, and the activity lived up to its name. Very quickly, all the volunteer mentors, partner agency staff, and Free Arts staff were actively participating with joy. Throughout the day, attendees engaged in movement/dance with Danica Koestner, and in reflection/journaling with Sean Medlin.

During two rounds of breakout sessions, attendees had the opportunity to dig deeper into topics related to working with families, Native American youth, mindfulness, and compassion fatigue.

The feedback from those who attended the conference highlighted the joys of creative expression, invigorated feelings regarding the power of mentorship, and showcased new connections along with strengthening those between Free Arts staff and our partner agencies.

Then, in an afternoon session, we announced the all-new Free Arts podcast, Canvas of the Heart, which will air seasonally beginning in June 2023! Matt Sandoval, Free Arts VP of Programs, and Jenna Christie-Tabron, Free Arts Program Clinical Director, will be hosting a podcast showcasing the work of Free Arts through guest interviews and topical discussions. The podcast will be available on multiple popular streaming platforms, so stay tuned for more details!

In the future, Free Arts plans to expand the conference offerings to include even more cultural partners and other agencies that promote resilience for children and young adults. So rest assured, fans of the conference! Free Arts will continue to create learning and connecting experiences for mentors and partner agencies.  

We can’t wait to see you at the 2024 Conference!

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