I never dreamed when I started doing Comments for a Cause in April 2011 that I would get so wrapped up in the causes that I discovered. It has been such a blessing to both my husband and myself to be able to support some wonderful people and causes along the way. Every month the new “cause” presents itself and I have no doubt that it is God-guided. The other neat outcome is that others have joined in and if you check out the right side of my blog you will find a spot where I list other bloggers who are doing the same thing on their blogs. Thank you to them for joining in with their own version of Comments for a Cause.
January was a great month for comments and I am thrilled to reveal that we will be making a donation of $279 to the Cancer Research Institute in support of Dave Courtenay’s Camino De Santiago Walk. You can read all about it by clicking on this link to take you to a separate page. A lot of Dave’s family and friends and co-workers of his wife Marian chimed in on the comments this month and it was fabulous to “meet” them all. I would love to meet them all in person.
I belong to several Facebook groups for bloggers and recently a random post on my Iowa Bloggers page caught my eye. Samantha Lee Thomas is an amazing young woman who is the CEO at Global Arts Therapy. She also writes a blog (which is how I found her on Iowa Bloggers) at Global Arts Girl. A quick comment on the group page led me to the Global Arts Therapy website and from there I was hooked. On their front page the statement “Change the World with Art” caught my eye and I knew this was a cause that we could all support. Several emails went back and forth and I found that Samantha was a charming and enthusiastic advocate for using art as a way to bridge children who are underserved to greater things. I decided to simply ask Samantha a few questions in order to allow my readers to understand a bit more of what the organization does.
Tell me a few things about yourself and how this organization began. I began traveling with my parents when I was a young child and was always encouraged to explore different cultures. At the age of 20 I traveled to London to study abroad and fell in love with seeing the world. Shortly after London I went to Prague CZ to study for two semesters, this is where Global Arts Therapy began, I wrote a counter-cultural term paper that was the blueprint for an art center that used art to create jobs and promote business training programs through artistic principles. I came back to Iowa to finish my degree of international relations at Drake University and then flew to South Korea to teach art and multicultural education to youth. During my first year of teaching in South Korea (2012) I had the pleasure of linking up with CWIN (Child workers in Nepal) to teach art programs, prior to the trip I collected art supplies from individuals who wanted to donate and then brought the supplies to Kathmandu, after teaching classes I found a great need to continue the efforts. In February 2013 Global Arts Therapy incorporated and by April we were preparing to apply for tax exempt status.In a nutshell–what does Global Arts Therapy do? Global Arts Therapy brings arts and music programs as well as sustainable development projects to urban youth in Iowa and Nepal. We have partnered and worked with Iowa Homeless Youth Centers as well as Community Youth Concepts. We believe that art and music can do more than teach just creative thinking. We believe it can help students understand other subjects such as hard sciences and math. If we use art and music to engage children we can further empower, improve and develop our communities and their young global citizens. We also aim to bring cross cultural relations to individuals in Nepal and Iowa. We want our great children in Iowa and Nepal to share in each others cultures-to further improve and develop international relations among youth.How many youth have you reached so far and what are your goals? We have reached about 100 youth since the beginning in 2012 however we want to engage up to 1500 youth within the next year (750 in Iowa and 750 in Nepal)Why Iowa? Why Nepal? The reason why we are reaching out to Iowa and Nepal is because both places have a lot to offer. Iowa is a beautiful state with lots of opportunities for individuals to learn, share and create great futures. Nepal is ranked 157 out of 185 (being the poorest) on the United Nations Human Development Index, Global Arts Therapy wants to help individuals in Nepal gain access to education, clean water and create sustainable jobs and programs to help eradicate poverty. All of these great things can be achieved by sharing with Iowa, our programs also help assist with cross cultural relations and allow young Iowans an opportunity to share with their global neighbors. In future years to come we aim to implement programs in Czech Republic, South Korea and Ghana. I would also like to see our outreach expand to Cambodia in later years to come.What specific projects do you do with the youth? We have done a lot of art therapy inspired projects to begin with, focusing on personality, character, the self within society, individual voice and sharing unique and positive/negative messages with the world. We have used recycled materials such as cardboard and newspaper. We are heading to Nepal in April of 2014 and then we will really begin with job training programs and creating sustainable art programs. An example of a project we will be doing is creating water filters and pottery that rural communities can use to create clean water. We will also be working on developing music studios and an instrument program in both Iowa and Nepal.Anything else you want my readers to know? Here’s your chance!!! We are a grassroots organization that tries to promote the well being of youth in Iowa and Nepal. We are open, we share and value every person that wants to be part of our program. Everyone has a special talent and we want to have individuals from all walks of life participate in our projects. Art and music are powerful tools that can be used for great things. Art is in everything and is everywhere. We are trying to focus on the idea that art and music are not just for galleries or the elite whom choose to purchase it. Art is a significant part of culture and narrates a greater story from the person who creates it. Global Arts Therapy is trying to show that art is a water filter, it is a poem, it is a new design concept. Creative thinking and ingenuity is what drives global society and will empower our future generations and leaders of tomorrow. Global Arts Therapy is currently looking for new board members for 2014-2015. I welcome the opportunity to speak with individuals in Iowa who would like to participate on our board. We will also be launching a crowd funding campaign early February to help raise money and awareness of our great cause, for details please visit our website at www.globalartstherapy.org or like us on facebook Global Arts TherapyI think you will agree with me that this is a positively wonderful cause to be supporting this month on It’s Just Life. For every comment that is made on any post during the month of February a donation of 50 cents will be made to the support of Global Arts Therapy. If you feel so inclined to donate on your own you can do that easily on their website .