Healing Young Hearts: Trinity W. Uses Art as a Form of Expression to Help Adolescents and Teens Cope with Stress and Anxiety
For her Gold Award project, Trinity W., from Girl Scouts Heart of the South, used art as a form of expression to help adolescents and teens cope with stress and anxiety. Whether the challenges come from school, community violence, the loss of a loved one, abuse, bullying, or any other life problem, Trinity’s Note 2 Self Art Expression Workshop and Showcase are uniquely healing, and have made a significant impact in her community.
Trinity and her team started by recruiting twenty-five teen girls, from seventh to twelfth grade, to attend a four day art expression workshop she created. Each girl was provided a storage caddy, art supplies, and an art journal, and were served breakfast, lunch, and snacks each day. The workshop increased the girls’ understanding of mental health well-being by helping them become more emotionally aware, teaching them how to use art as a healthy coping skill for expression, exposing them to the concept of mindfulness, and increasing their understanding of self-awareness and positive self-esteem.
At the end of the four days, the workshop wrapped up with an art show to celebrate the girls’ work and also served as a teen mental illness awareness event—more than 100 people attended the showcase! But that’s not all. Information about the workshop and event on social media sites was viewed by more than 1,400 people!
Q: Why did you choose this topic for your Gold Award project?
A: In 2015, I developed a mental health condition. My art helped me get my mind off of the pain I was feeling and transported me into a different world. Art is my passion. It has allowed me to express feelings when there were no words to do so. Whether it’s painting, drawing, or singing, art has become my emotional release and my mantra for living life in the moment.
After being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I discovered how taboo the subject of mental illness was especially in the African-American community. I later learned that only a small percentage of people from my community seek help and treatment for these conditions. I also learned that I was not alone and many people were suffering in silence around me.
As I began to share my journey with other teens, I quickly realized that lots of other people my age struggled with emotional challenges, but did not have the tools or support to overcome it or manage it.
Through my journey, I now understand the tongue is powerful and my art is spiritual. I chose to use both as a launching pad to bring awareness to teen mental illness by developing and organizing the Note 2 Self Art Expression Workshop and Showcase that served as my Gold Award project.
Q: What obstacles did you face in completing your Gold Award
project and how did you overcome them?
A: Mental illness is not an easy subject to talk about and many people consider it to be a taboo subject, but because of this project, it has become easier for me to share my story and encourage others to do so as well.
At the beginning of the art expression workshop, the girls were apprehensive about participating and some of them even showed outward disdain for being signed up for the workshop. Fortunately, each day the girls attended the workshop, their attitudes became more and more positive. They began to bond with one another and started to embrace the workshop as a safe space to share their stories about dealing with behavioral issues, struggles in school, and experiences in foster care.
Q: What kind of impact has resulted from your project, and how will
it be sustainable?
A: The girls who participated in the Note 2 Self workshop gained a lot of different skills like communication, public speaking, and coping skills, team building, knowledge about the impact of depression and anxiety, and self-confidence.
The pre and post-test the girls took also showed their knowledge around resiliency increased from 80 to 86 percent, recognizing journaling as a form of reflection increased from 80 to 89 percent, and all of them were now able to identify a mindfulness exercise.
Through my willingness to share my story about the challenges of coping with anxiety and depression, others are better educated on how mental illness impacts teens and on the importance of emotional well-being.
In addition to Girl Scouts, I am also a social justice fellow for a local leadership development program, Bridge Builders Changers. They invited me to participate in the MLK50 Student Convening in which I facilitated a Note 2 Self session that inspired them to make Note 2 Self part of their ongoing social justice curriculum.
The organization I partnered with to deliver the workshop, Cathedral of Faith Ministries, also agreed to incorporate the Note 2 Self curriculum into their girls mentoring program, I’m Somebody, Not Some-Body.
And finally, I was nominated for a National Civil Rights Museum Keeper of the Dream Award for Note 2 Self in which I was one of four 2017 recipients.
Q: What qualities or skills have you gained from completing your
Gold Award project, and what have you learned?
A: This experience has increased my confidence as an individual. My ability to lead a group, and plan and execute a project have also increased.
I learned that by working with a committed team I can accomplish more than by working alone, and that if you just ask, people are usually willing to help—either by giving their time, talent, or resources—if they believe in what you are trying to accomplish.
Q: How has your life changed after completing your Gold Award
A: Strangers have approached me and thanked me for having the courage to share my story and to address a big community problem. They’ve also shared their stories of how they themselves or their children have struggled with mental illness and often times without any support.
Q: How has your Gold Award project prepared you to empower
A: The discoveries I have made about myself through this project have empowered me to have courageous conversations, and have given me the skills to take action and advocate on behalf of future issues I wish to take a stand for or against.
It has also increased my desire to become more active in my community and help girls like me cope with and overcome their challenges with mental illness.