The special project conducted with International Academy of Hope (iHOPE) in Harlem was a huge success! On March 13, our grad students visited the site and worked with staff and children to create expressive paper dolls with collage materials.
International Academy of Hope serves children, adolescents and young adults, age 5 to 21 who have sustained an acquired brain injury or other brain-based disorders, and who cannot be served in their local school systems.
1st year student Josh Brancheau, described his experience as “challenging and rewarding. For me, the biggest challenge was communicating with kids that are nonverbal. Yet, as we transcended the language barrier with the kids through the art, we were able to witness the pure joy of human connection.”
Kerry Ann Castoria, another 1st year student, worked with a young boy and facilitated a process of nuanced decision-making.
“I would place a different textured material into his hands and he would explore the tactile qualities of the material. He enjoyed ripping and crumpling up the tissue paper. He also tried to tickle his face with a feather. He then would place the object onto the figure in order to direct me as to where I should put glue. I would place the glue and the boy would tap the object into place.
Although most of our communication was nonverbal, the child was excited to verbally identify some of the stickers (“Blue Owl…Yellow Butterfly…Clown-fish…Starfish!”). The child even demonstrated some hesitancy over a placement he made with a material. He decided to rip it off and reconsider the area with a new material. In creating the paper-cut-out people, the project facilitated a lot of opportunities for nonverbal communication, self-expression, and an exploration of personal preferences for tactile materials.”
We hope to continue arranging projects at this new site!