Kya’s Krusade was inspired by the birth and personal journey of a special young lady, named Kya, who was born with a rare disability called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. The organization was co-founded in 2007 by Kya’s mother and godmother, after many exhaustive searches for information, resources and support for Kya and her family. Kylie and Ashandra proactively aspired to become a resource and source of support for other children with physical disabilities and their families. “A gateway to hope and support, where families, medical and social communities converge.”
A founding principal of Kya’s Krusade is that the physical disabilities of a child are a family experience. The Art Therapy Program was developed as an alternative therapy experience to engage and benefit the whole family. Through the process of creating art, the program provides children with an outlet for personal, physical, emotional, developmental and environmental exploration, as well as an opportunity to build confidence in a supportive environment. The evolution of this program is driven by continuous feedback, interactions and discussions among the art therapist, parents/caregivers, volunteers and the students. We aspire to meet the changing interests and needs of the families we serve.
Classes are offered in four-week series four to five times per year. The hour-long classes are taught by a licensed Art Therapist. To ensure each student receives dedicated attention, we maintain a class size of 8-10 students and a 1:2 volunteer to student ratio. Each interactive class features a core theme related to the art project, which incorporates therapeutic skills, such as manual manipulation, tactile development, fine and gross motor skills, environmental exploration, social interaction and verbal development. Students explore themes such as internal versus external perception, mindfulness, developing meaningful interactions, and empathizing and responding to other’s feelings. Examples of previous projects include face masks, mandalas, dream catchers, hope vessels, friendship trading cards and bubble painting. Every class begins with a group discussion explaining the class’ theme and how it relates to their lives. Upon completion of the art project, each child discusses his or her creation, its connection to the theme and compliments another student’s art.
The program is open to and designed for children with disabilities, who regularly engage in physical and occupational therapy, their siblings and primary caregivers. Art Therapy is a fun and dynamic way to reinforce the therapeutic skills many of the children with disabilities work toward during occupational, physical and verbal therapy. The typical siblings are active participants along-side their sister or brother and receive often-overlooked acknowledgement, support and a new outlet for expressing their individual experiences within the family dynamic. The parents/caregivers receive a much-needed respite from the exhaustive advocacy to ensure the best possible medical, educational and social opportunities for their children with disabilities and balance their other familial responsibilities. They have the option to participate in our “Parents’ Corner” discussions and creative activities or take some personal time to themselves to walk, read or reflect.
We continue to strategically expand our outreach and the scope of the classes we offer in conjunction with art therapy. This includes creating an additional art therapy class format to accommodate the families of children with more involved disabilities, for whom the participating in a continuous four-week series is more difficult, due to the unpredictable nature of their conditions.
Kya’s Krusade provides the Art Therapy classes and activities free of charge and supplements the program costs with grants and fundraising. We are applying for a grant of $2,000 from Columbus SOUP. The licensed art therapist charges a standard fee of $125 for each class of eight to ten students, which covers instruction and materials for each art therapy classes and art-based Parents’ Corner activities. Volunteers assist the students with their art therapy projects and to facilitate Parents’ Corner. Columbus Recreation of Park and Recreation has partnered with us, since the Art Therapy Program’s inception in 2008, providing us with an in-kind donation of the Schiller Recreation Center and related facilities, an in-kind value of $50 per hour. The grant from Columbus SOUP would be applied directly to the Art Therapy Instruction and materials. The grant will allow us to host a total of 16 classes, serving eight to 10 students and their caregivers each class.