Wildey students express themselves through art

Luke Baker, a volunteer with St. Louis School, left, prepares art materials while Matthew Habetz of the Wildey School ponders the emotions they will depict on their cardboard cutout during the Clermont FAST TRAC “My Feelings are a Work of Art” project on May 9.
Teenagers and art mix well together, especially when they are celebrating a worthy cause.

That was the overall consensus at the Thomas A. Wildey School on May 9, as students and volunteers participated in the “My Feelings Are a Work of Art” project.

To recognize May as Mental Health Month, Clermont FAST TRAC created the “My Feelings” project for children to express their emotions and to help them realize many people care about their mental health. The Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCDD), Wildey School students, and eighth grade volunteers from the St. Louis School joined together on May 9 to participate in this project to show everyone is important, regardless of their abilities, emotions, or moods.

“Classrooms were given small, cardboard cutouts of people,” explained Lisa Davis, CCDD Community Relations Director. “They decorated the cutouts with art supplies, according to the students’ feelings and expressions.”

St. Louis eighth grade volunteers were paired up with Wildey students, working one-on-one with each other to create a project that came to life throughout the afternoon. Teachers and staff assisted by using pictorial diagrams to help the students choose the emotional design for each cardboard cutout.

“St. Louis has had a long-term relationship with Wildey that helps promote our school’s mission,” said Beth Weber, eighth grade teacher at St. Louis School, who discussed the “My Feelings” project with her class after returning to their school.

“As I stood there listening to the kids share their stories, I heard compassion and also a sense of pride in being able to help the (Wildey) kids complete their project.”

The project sponsor is Clermont FAST TRAC, a system of care initiative of the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board funded by a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Clermont FAST TRAC services include promotion, prevention, early identification, and treatment interventions for children aged 3-21 with emotional/behavioral issues and their families.

Artwork from CCDD/Wildey School will be on display at a “My Feelings Are a Work of Art” exhibit later this year, along with projects from other schools and organizations in Clermont County. For more information, visit www.clermontfasttrac.org.