When terrorists attacked the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market, Hypercacher, in Paris in January killing 16 people the impact reached beyond the victims and their families to many other Parisians as well, especially children.
Local artist Tracy Ellyn wanted to help. Because she once lived for a time in the same neighborhood in Paris where the terror attacks took place, it really hit home for her.
“My organization, The Zen Tov Project for Healing Through the Arts, works on initiatives that help save lives via the arts,” she said. “When a colleague of mine in America, Lauren Perlman, founded the Healing Paris initiative after the terror attacks and related ongoing conflicts in Paris and Israel this past year, I knew The Zen Tov Project needed to help because we understand the importance of art therapy, especially for children, in resolving the trauma, and relieving the fear and anguish, during and after such events.”
She put together kits of art supplies that children in the affected areas could use to express themselves and at least partially release the emotions they were keeping bottled up.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during and after these terror events,” she said. “When walking down the street to their school, store or playground is no longer safe in Paris, or when running into a bomb shelter at least once a day becomes the norm in Israel, they suffer.
“They lose sleep, can’t eat, double over with anxiety, stop focusing and learning, have crying spells, lose faith and trust, can’t grasp hope, and relive the events with repetitive nightmares,” Ellyn added.
She said that their physical and emotional scars often last long into adulthood. What they can’t put into words they can put into art, because “children are visual beings” and art therapy helps.
“It is our obligation as seasoned adults living in a generally safer country to reach our hands out and make sure it doesn’t fester, and that each child’s outcome is positive,” she said. “We have all seen the results of hate and terror around the world this past year. It’s not a religious issue. It’s not a Jewish issue. It’s a human issue. These Healing Arts Kits are a universal humanitarian effort. All of us can help.”
So far, Ellyn has set up the Healing Paris endeavor for two venues in Miami. On May 18 and all of next year, the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest will sponsor the effort. Also, on May 31, the Fund 4 Design & Art Education will table Healing Paris at its annual Silent Auction at the Dave and Mary Alper JCC.
For information on the Healing Arts Kits for children visit online at www.tracyellyn.com/#!healing-paris—artists-4-israel/cds6 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.