Mos Chukma Arts-As-Healing
There are an estimated 10,000 youth diagnosed with trauma in New Orleans, while countless more go undiagnosed. Untreated trauma manifests itself in youth in a variety of ways, including: uncontrollable emotional outbursts, emotional and developmental paralysis or disassociation, self-destructive behavior, depression, violent tendencies, apathy, irrational decisions, and/or an overwhelming hopelessness.
Humans are designed to heal! Art is the ideal vehicle for this healing process, because it incorporates focused attention, harnessed emotions, and utilizes a creative outlet for self-investigation and expression. Recently, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities partnered with the Department of Education’s School Turnaround Arts Program, as part of a larger administration effort to leverage arts, artists, and resources to bring arts to some of our most troubled schools, including New Orleans. This effort recognizes that bringing the arts into the school inspires young people to reach higher. Students involved in the arts generally perform better in school, and are more likely to enroll and complete college. We celebrate this recognition of the need for healing arts programs such as ours, and are committed to increasing our capacity to reach more New Orleans youth.
Our unique holistic Arts-As-Healing Program has been developed with the care and expertise of an arts and science educators, with over thirty years of experience, working specifically with at-risk and traumatized youth, as well as in collaboration with a team of specialists in this area. After three years of working with over four hundred students a week at the Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School for Science and Technology in the Lower Ninth Ward, we expanded our reach this school year to work with youth at the Joseph A. Craig Charter School in the Treme neighborhood. There is a wealth of testimony from teachers, administrators, and students alike, attesting to the effectiveness of our work, with some teachers testifying that our Arts-as-Healing program is the most important work that a student will undertake in the course of a school year.
Mos Chukma’s Arts-As-Healing Institute
Our Arts-As-Healing Institute is a hosting an internship program in partnership with collaborating schools, community organizations and members. Interns will receive direct instruction, mentoring, on-site student teaching and certification, and ultimately, be qualified to serve as Mos Chukma Art Teachers, disseminating our unique approach and curative art activities while broadening Mos Chukma’s ability to reach as many students as possible. The internship will begin with a week-long intensive training to be held at the New Orleans Healing Center, a sanctuary and model for urban and community healing.
Mos Chukma’s Arts-As-Healing Institute training model is grounded in the principles of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Buddhist and First Nations spiritual healing traditions. EMDR, a psychotherapeutic approach developed by Francine Shapiro, is one of the most widely accepted treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, and is the therapeutic choice of veterans. Our training curriculum will provide a comprehensive overview of the concepts and protocols of EMDR, meditation, meditative techniques and practices, child development, facilitator training, curriculum development, and media literacy.
Our Institute training curriculum will cover the following concepts:
Collaborative Teaching: Because Mos Chukma works with whole groups, rather than small selected groups, it is critical that teachers work with a partner teacher. Therefore, the relationship and dynamic of this relationship will be defined to facilitate harmonious sharing of the classroom space. Often this collaboration will exist between two student teachers with varying ability and experience levels. This offers opportunities for more experienced teachers to coach and mentor less experienced teachers, yielding valuable opportunities for learning from each.
Self-Care: Student teachers will undergo a variety of activities designed to facilitate their own augmentation of inner emotional intelligence and well-being. Student teachers must be practiced in healthy emotional control to facilitate and effectively model to aid the youth. They must first know the process and the stages of this development first-hand. To this end, there are a variety of literatures and activities that will shed light on the different facets of emotional well-being as well as its alliance to art.
Installing Habits of Learning Readiness: Student teachers will understand the importance of learning readiness and become equipped with a variety of exercises that facilitate this readiness. This learning readiness is implemented daily, before any other activities are undertaken. It is the result of a combination of kinesthetic activities, visualization, and expanded awareness, actualized through storytelling and Teaching Stories. Certain activities will be a part of the daily routines of readiness, while other exercises will be full period investigations into the act of learning itself (“metacognition”). These activities prepare the student to be present for their academic learning as well as for their art.
Story-telling, the Natural World and Development of Emotional Intelligence: Instructors will use story-telling and theater to teach children how to identify, manage and express their emotions. Often traumatized youth are very disassociated from, confused by, and even scared of their own emotions, and often, the emotional instability of individuals around them. Practicing the “showing” of different emotions helps to illustrate to students that although expressing their emotions is healthy, they are not stuck in any one emotion. They are, ultimately, in control of how they feel, and these feelings are always subject to their intentions. Certain techniques also use theater to demonstrate, understand, and participate in cycles from the natural world.
Camera-as-Witness and Youth Presentations: Because of the emotional dissociation that occurs with trauma, especially trauma in youth, many students complain of feeling invisible or uncared for in their world. In order to address this feeling of neglect, Mos Chukma uses the camera as a witness that documents the achievements and processes of learning occurring with students. We have found that the act of giving presentations, introducing one’s self, confiding in the camera, and then going back and watching this process after the fact is very soothing for the students and lends a sense of importance to the experiences and words of the students. Developing art skills, learning to present and filming happens simultaneously, connecting the student to the present moment. Students grow beyond practices. They will develop and exhibit communication skills - being articulate - and exhibit a depth of perspective and understanding.
Virtues of Various Art Mediums as Aligned with Trauma Relief: Each of the art mediums lend themselves to a certain investigation into emotional intelligence. Whether the tactile therapeutic effects of rolling lumps of clay, or the connection of color study to human emotions, much of the curative effects of art making lies in the process of the art, rather than merely the end result.
Advanced Specifics of Trauma Relief: This facet of the training will go beyond the investigations into emotional intelligence, and will openly address direct treatment of the traumatic events. Variables such as age, types of trauma and previous exposure to treatment will affect the strategies used by the student teacher. Student teachers will investigate types, causes, and various signs of trauma, as well as the role they will play in trauma recovery.
Lesson Planning and Culminating Project Design: Understanding that the majority of artists have never had formal training in developing cohesive curricular units, this segment of training will address the necessary components of developing well-organized lesson plans. When trauma is addressed there is emotional energy released, wanting to tap into the community and express itself through art, to be creative. These are the tools of non-violent cultures where artists and children work together to create community art; uplifting the community as a whole.
Mos Chukma is committed to broadening our scope and reach by providing an Arts as Healing Institute to train artists, local community members and Opportunity Youth (New Orleans young men, 16 to 25 years old ) as well as returning war veterans, to provide youth in our partner schools with relief from trauma, through a variety of art-centered activities. This emotion-driven healing arts program was specifically designed to reframe trauma, process negative emotions and increase resilience through the regular practice of particular activities designed to address the PTSD of Katrina as well as the genocide of slavery.
Mos Chukma Institute
THE TRAINING PROGRAM
“Trauma healing is a sophisticated art. I have been fortunate enough to study with healing elders from both Buddhist and First Nations traditions. These deeply spiritual modalities, in combination with the Western practice of EMDR, have proven ideal for alleviating traumatic wounds ranging from recurring suffering to total transformation occurring in an instant,”
Amelie Prescott, Founder, Mos Chukma Institute