Healing Angels project was designed to develop and support the sparks of children in at risk/at possibility communities.
It can be rolled out in your community.
In 2006, UTC painted the portraits of 47 young people at the Helen S. Faison Arts Academy in Pittsburgh, PA. which were presented to the students in honor of their graduation from 5th grade. A book of the portraits and the writings of the students was produced, called Homewood’s Healing Angels. The title comes from the Unity Through Creativity belief that prioritizing the needs, fresh vision and openness of children can heal any community, any where, including Homewood in inner city Pittsburgh.
Tayshawn’s spark is leadership Sjon’s gift is imagination
Each child’s portrait included a set of wings to highlight their divinity, and an image in the background of a dream they had for their future. The wings don’t mean that the children are the kind of perfect angel that always makes perfect choices. The main way we human beings learn is by our mistakes, grown-ups and kids alike. By giving them wings, the paintings provide the children with extra support to reach their dreams. They are receiving the support of Nature, the Wind and the Birds; the support of the Ancestors, the Angels and the Creator.
Herbert, Penn Hills High School, I remember the many paintings we made. When I look at my portrait, I remember all the good times we had in art class. I want to be a football star and then be a lawyer. The odds I’m up against are being hurt and breaking bones.
Tosha , University Prep. I remember when you took the pictures for our angels. I remember when I first met Tayshawn. When I look at the portrait, I miss my elementary school and I miss my friends. I want to keep singing. I want to be a doctor. I want to keep writing. I have no idea what odds I’m up against, but nothing will stand in my way.
Four years later, in 2010, the students are entering 10th grade. Unity Through Creativity set up a Homewood Healing Angels Facebook page for the “Healing Angels” and organized a reunion to continue being a support system for these young people. What we found out was, that even 4 years later, many of the kids are still holding up to their portraits, using it as a daily reminder of what they can become and what is possible despite the challenges they are facing.
John Brewer, author of The Room and Ahmed Sheriff, founder of the Cottontree Association of Sierra Leone, were inspirational speakers. Former Faison music teacher Becky Dougan led us in a rousing version of “Lean on Me” to close out an evening of shared food, dreams and art. See an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on the 2010 reunion of Homewood’s Healing Angels here.
Can you imagine what you can give to your kids with a portrait like this? Can you imagine what a difference this one simple drawing could mean to a child in your class?
Trevon , Peabody High School. I remember talking about dreams with you in 5th grade. A recent thought when I looked at my portrait is that I still want to be an entrepreneur. I have three dreams: To be an entrepreneur, therapist and choreographer. Nothing will stand in my way.
Dazjah, Alderdice. I remember making the Cherry Singing Tree with everyone at Helen S. Faison elementary school. I also remember making the Wall of Care and the Wheel of Feelings that you took to prison. I also remember when you painted me and my classmates in 5th grade. My recent thought looking at my painting is how young I was. I dream of being famous and singing for fun. The odds I’m up against are the deaths around me, distractions, limited time and negative people.
John, Neighborhood Academy. I remember that I was a creative artist who lived to make art work. I think of my kiddish ways and smart brains when I look at my portrait. I want to become a lawyer, open my own practice and then become a judge. The odds I face include haters and the fears I still need to face.
Angels Reunion, 2010