Organizations: Paint Love

Paint Love adds vibrant, hopeful color to the lives of children facing poverty and trauma.
Georgia Trend October 2020 Organizations Paintlove 14
Being Grateful: Paint Love projects often involve writing and drawing about gratitude, which is proven to improve optimism and sleep and combat anxiety. Credit: Contributed

Paint Love adds vibrant, hopeful color to the lives of children facing poverty and trauma.

“We envision a world where all young people have access to creative experiences that empower them to imagine a future not limited by adverse experience,” says Executive Director Laura Shaw. “Young people who have the most to gain from art usually have the least access because of funding cuts.”

The Atlanta-based nonprofit, founded in 2014, partners with Title 1 schools and nonprofit organizations to engage youth through projects that are artist-led and specially formulated by trauma-informed standards. By providing free supplies and artist instructors, it has served more than 10,500 kids since its inception, including 900 students and caregivers this year alone.

The program started by treating survivors of sex trafficking, and those clients responded so well that organizers decided to apply art therapy to other traumatized individuals.

How does it work? “Many of the kids, especially refugees, can’t explain their trauma verbally, so we use imagery,” Shaw says. “So they can share their story, reframe it and imagine a different future through critical thinking and the power of imagination. Sometimes a kid is in such survival mode that he or she can’t even think ahead to the coming weekend. These exercises are healing.”

Paint Love has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing digital and downloadable kits. Over the years, the organization has worked with 30 schools and about 25 nonprofit partners in Metro Atlanta, but now its teaching tools have reached 40 states and seven countries.

“It’s been a silver lining of the virus that we’re reaching more people,” Shaw says.

Categories: Organizations, Up Front