Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Important things!

Guest blog post from my ridiculously amazing friend Kim:

Journal To Save Your Life is my newest cause and the one I believe in the most. In short, it’s art therapy for youth, something I really could have used. I was raised in a strict evangelical christian home, and I never quite fit. I was pegged the high school slut before I ever had sex. I would accidentally ask all the wrong questions. I tried harder to fit in. I went on mission trips. I sang the songs. I prayed the prayers.
I even became a youth summer intern at a local Baptist church. I found a middle-aged woman to be
a spiritual mentor at that church. She had a son who thought I was pretty. I put up with both of them
because I wanted to seem spiritually deep. One night, he wooed me out by saying his mom would hang
out with us for a little bit. I had to maintain my oh-so-deep reputation, so I obliged. His mom made an
appearance, but it did not take long for me to figure out I was coerced into a weird date-like scenario.
After his mom left, he drugged and raped me. That was the first time I had sex. Then I really didn’t fit
into my evangelical world. It all seemed paper-thin fake. I did not know what was real.

It was not until college that I learned my creativity was one of the only things that is definitely mine and
real. I played violin in the university orchestra. I was also known to lock myself in bathroom stalls and
free-write poetry and prose. Sure, it got a little emo in college, but eventually my own awkward version
of art therapy opened me up to finding a sense of self, the ability to love, and connection again. If only I
found art as an outlet in my younger years, maybe I would not have tried so hard to fit into a world that
clearly was not mine, to the point that eventually, it burned me. Maybe I would have been content to
be the misfit who pursued my art because at least I knew that was real. I firmly believe art shapes one’s
identity, confidence, and happiness. As an adult, I currently take sewing, belly dancing, and hula hooping classes with this belief in mind. Also, I am firmly supporting Journal to Save Your Life (J2SYL) with the hope of instilling the salvation of art into younger minds.

J2SYL Team is currently in conversation with AISD's office of Innovation and Development and
Department of Research and Evaluation about disseminating their year long pilot program throughout
Travis County with the help of their school counselors. Each counselor will reward 10-15 of their most
at-risk girls a spot in J2SYL. This first group is exceptional for J2SYL in that these girls will literally shape the final program. These girls will be leaders, empowered young women exploring what it means to have sound mental health for themselves and their peers. J2SYL is 12 months long and is made up of
52 weekly, therapeutic installments. These weekly installments include social skills training, cognitive
behavioral therapy, and art therapy based on an invitation to EXPRESS and Create in response to video, audio, written, photography, dance, spoken word, and news items that spark independent reflection and empowerment.

Something y’all should know about Jasper Faolan, the founder of Journal to Save Your Life, she’s a
mover and a shaker. She is not yet thirty, and already she wrote a novel that moved me to tears in the
first few pages, took on two jobs simultaneously in the mental health arena and never once lost a shred
of her COMPASSION (after all, it is a tattoo emblazoned on her arm), and then launched this campaign
to fund her dream nonprofit. She is a renaissance lady, with an eye for successful ventures. The
phenomenal part about this nonprofit is she motivated a team of about twenty of her closest friends
(including yours truly) to voluntarily make her dream a reality. It’s been less than a year, and we’re real
already! We have our 501(c)3 status pending, bylaws written, and everything. It’s so exciting to see such a resource for shaping lives become a reality!

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