To recognize Child Abuse Awareness Month, The Salvation Army Anew Center's Children and Family Outreach Program hosted an art show in the Fellowship Hall on South Main Street in Jamestown on Friday.
The event allowed the program's counseling participants, most of whom are between ages 5 and 12, to display the artwork they created individually and with their families during the past several months.
CFOP individual and group counseling participants, who have experienced some sort of domestic violence or child abuse, created the art. CFOP strives to provide a safe place for children to express the abuse they've been through and increase their self-esteem.
P-J photo by Scott Shelters
The art show included several types of creations, including "body safety capes." The idea of creating the capes was to provide children with a means of seeing themselves as the bosses of their bodies.
Creating "angry monster drawings" allowed children to safely express the anger they felt as a result of their experiences through art.
The children and their families created family trees, allowing those who have experienced domestic violence or abuse to rebuild a sense of connection by telling their stories through art. The trees serve as a visual representation of what the family experienced in the past, how the family as a whole has grown into the present and how it hopes to continue to positively progress into the future.
Children also created SAFE houses, which they created with the acronym for "stay out of the fight, avoid getting trapped, find a phone and escape to a safe place" in mind.
CFOP works with children and families to make safety plans and boxes. Recently, an area child used a safety box during a domestic incident to reach safety, Melissa Dorchak, CFOP coordinator, said. The boxes contain phone numbers, stress relievers, paper, pencils and safety plans.
CFOP is part of The Salvation Army Anew Center, which provides services to victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault. CFOP encompasses three counseling services: group counseling for children; in-home family services; and individual counseling for children, adolescents and their families. The program's services extend throughout Chautauqua County.
"We work closely with the Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services and schools - counselors in schools, school social workers who work with families," Dorchak said. "We get a lot of referrals that way, but also if a parent is realizing that (their child needs) support like this in their life, they can call our number as well and do a self-referral."
For more information on CFOP, call 661-3398.