MOORE — From dancing to writing prompts, playing pretend to drawing a comic book, students at Plaza Towers and Briarwood elementary schools have been busy creating.
Though the students have certainly been having fun, there’s more behind the weekly, half-hour creative-based classes than meets the eye. The classes, called Art Feeds, are part of a free 12-week therapeutic art program designed to help participating students cope with the trauma of having their schools hit by an EF-5 tornado on May 20, 2013.
“Art Feeds is very specific to getting those emotions to come out without saying, ‘Tell me how you feel.’” Plaza Towers Counselor Michelle Fowler said about the non-profit arts program based out of Joplin, Mo. “It has that wonderful way — like play therapy. You play and kids never realize they were in therapy. With Art Feeds, it’s a great way for them to process their emotions without them realizing it.”
Kimberly Martinez, fourth grade teacher at Plaza Towers, said her 22 students look forward to the weekly classes led by volunteers. She said the students now dub the day “Fun Friday.” With the weather starting to take a turn to the more severe, she said it’s been good for the students to relieve anxiety through creative outlets.
“I think at first they were not really sure what was going on and then they really just enjoyed it. I noticed when they do the journals, that’s more when they express themselves about their feelings, they talk more about the tornadoes. We did a couple things where it was just a picture of somebody building a house and of course they wrote about their houses being rebuilt.
“I have one little girl in here, and Sydney Angle was her best friend. She just had a picture of a candle, and for me it was just a candle, but for her it was something that represented Sydney,” Martinez said, referring to one of seven children at Plaza Towers who died in the tornado.