“Art is as natural as sunshine and as vital as nourishment.” – MaryAnn F. Kohl

Image: Hand outlines, cave wall, Indonesia: at least 39,000 years old

It is no coincidence that art preceded language in human evolution: digging pigments from the earth, pressing our hands onto a surface, or using a rock to carve an image were the easiest way to communicate that, yes, “We exist.”

From the moment we are born, our senses are barraged with images, smells, sounds and sensations. And, every single one of these experiences is stored somewhere in our brain and consciousness, waiting to be processed, integrated and communicated as part of who we are and how we feel.

“Washington Crossing the Delaware,” Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, 1851

Art provides a healthy way to express ourselves: emotionally, physically and spiritually. It also is our means of communicating and interpreting our world. Without art, we would have no clues to our visual history – or, how this history was perceived by our ancestors.

This need for expression goes far beyond documentation: when we make art, we feel more alive, connected and at peace; inspired to express our innermost thoughts and feelings within the safe-haven of creativity.

Spread Your Wings event, Dell Children’s Hospital

Making things not only makes us feel better, it heals: Documented benefits include greatly reducing stress and anxiety, diminishing depression, jogging the memories of Alzheimer’s patients and significantly reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.

Brain scans and MRIs also prove that creativity does amazing things for our brain: According to one CNN report, “Creative activities also help the brain recover after illness, injury, or stress.”

As adults, there are infinite ways to integrate creativity into our lives that can truly transform our lives and our world: but what about our children?

Student art,

In this online world of single-parent households and social media, how do we provide our youth with the hands-on, fun experience of making or doing something that expresses who they truly are, and has nothing to do with the latest app? How do we regularly help them de-stress and process the lifelong repercussions of today’s issues, including emotional disorders, bullying, addiction, broken homes and everything in-between? How do we inspire imaginations, encourage invention and help them express the beauty and pain of the world? How can we support our nation’s children in smiling, laughing and living healthier, more productive lives?

By providing them with endless opportunities to express themselves and their imaginations through creativity: at home, in our communities and in school – regardless of the political climate. It’s time to get out the squirt gun, plant a garden, bake sculptey clay, paint by numbers and make up imaginary games. Whatever creative path you walk with or without your kids, it all translates to greater well-being. That said, since our grown-up lives don’t always allow for ongoing creative indulgence, we can still help our kids by supporting art programs in school: those that are funded by our government, those that aren’t, and those that we make up all on our own.

The benefits of arts education are way too compelling to ignore:

Translation? Students with arts education perform better in reading, writing and math. They have significantly increased graduation rates in both high school and college, fewer discipline and attendance issues, have better motor and attention skills and basically have healthier brains. They are also more likely to be recognized for achievement, filling them with a sense of worth and purpose – in other words, making art helps kids feel good about themselves.

Best of all, children with ongoing access to arts education enter the world with a healthy, lifelong tool to support them in expressing themselves and processing emotions.  We can also help them do this at home – it’s all about welcoming and nurturing creativity in any way, shape or form.  The best part is this:  getting creative with our kids, family, friends and community offers huge benefits to everyone on every level.

Stay tuned to this part of the Creative Awakenings site to learn about inspirational individuals programs and approaches that can help all of us raise happier, healthier children.


Spread Your Wings, Dell Children’s Hospital, Art of Giving event, 2017

Spread Your Wings, Dell Children’s Hospital, Art of Giving event, 2017

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, painting his nature into his own pictures.”
– Henry Ward Beecher