On August 6, 2015, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY, and Hospice & Palliative Care partnered to provide Brave Hearts, a bereavement program for children ages 6 to 12 who have experienced the death of a loved one.
The day-long program, held at various locations on the MWPAI campus, included activities such as a rhythm-making session with a certified drum therapy musician. The participants explored cultures from around the world that have used drumming to promote healing and self-expression. Through an obstacle course, children learned that grief has obstacles that they have to overcome to adjust to their loss. Grief is not a continuous path forward; it can be two steps forward and one step back.
Throughout the day children discovered that their own creativity can express grief and that engaging with the arts is a way to care for oneself. An MWPAI art instructor and a Hospice Counselor led a discussion about positive and negative emotions; each child then created a ceramic heart and used paints to represent the emotions the child has experienced. During interactive tours of the permanent collection and the special exhibition Monet to Matisse: The Age of French Impressionism (from the collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens), children had the opportunity to explore how artists express feelings and emotions.
At the end of the day, parents and guardians re-joined the children on the front steps of the Museum of Art to release balloons carrying messages of love, hope, and renewal.
Photo: Balloon release on the front steps of the Museum of Art at the end of the Brave Hearts bereavement program. Image courtesy of Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute