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EXPRESSION SESSIONS: CHCHC provides creative outlets

What little kid doesn’t like to dabble with paint? Turning circles into happy faces, lines into horses’ legs and window panes into cascades of color?

Charles Henderson Child Health Center (CHCHC) in Troy has just the space for such a place.

For an hour each Wednesday afternoon, from 3:30 until 4:30 p.m., happy, carefree kids and their moms and, dads, too, come to CHCHC for Expression Sessions, which is a creative outlet for kids ages five to eight. However, Shanlie Wolter, art teacher, welcomes any child to the art experience. Even though little Charlie was “underage,” he showed a huge amount of interest in what wet paint feels like on a little boy’s nose.

“We want the children who come to Expression Sessions to have fun and art is fun,” Wolter said. “We want children to experiment with colors and shapes. We want them to paint what interests them and we want them to feel free to express their feelings through art. We want them to have a good art experience.”

Wolter said sharing time at Expression Sessions with friends and family enhances the art experience and is an incentive to come back again and again.

“Expression Sessions is not something you have to come to every week,” Wolter said. “It’s understandable that there are other things to do or that have to be done. But, it’s exciting that the kids really enjoy being here and look forward to coming every week.”

Lydia Brown has been working on a painting of a horse for several sessions.

“I love horses so that’s what I wanted to paint,” she said. “It’s fun to paint a horse and to give him a place to run and play.”

Hearing the word “fun” when talking about art pleases the teacher and the parents as well.

Andrea Pack said her children look forward to Expression Sessions and so does she.

“The children have a good time with the other children and they always enjoy the art projects,” she said. “I enjoy watching them and seeing their excitement about what they are doing. Shanlie is a great teacher. She doesn’t tell them what and how to do, she leads them.”

Pack said Expression Sessions supplies the paint, paper and brushes needed for the art activities.

“These are things that we don’t have readily available at home,” she said and added, laughing, that it’s wonderful to have a place where children can come and be expressive, and even make a bit of a mess doing it.

Lydia Carmody said her daughter, Maddie, enjoys spending time with her friend doing something they both enjoy.

“Maddie loves to come to Expression Sessions because art experiences are limited in school,” she said. “And, it’s relaxing for the children. If they’ve had a ‘bad’ day at school, doing something creative helps them forget all about it.”
Carmody’s comment hints at the fact that creative endeavors, including art, can be stress relievers for children as well as adults.

The world of children is often viewed by adults as happy and carefree. Kids don’t have mortgages to pay or clocks to punch so they should have no worries.

But children often experience stress, said Charles Henderson Child Health Center pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Dawson.

“In today’s world, children often experience stress,” Dawson said. “There are different reasons for stress. Children don’t have mortgages but home situations, school struggles, friends, insecurities, illnesses, so many things can cause stress.”

Children can relieve stress in different ways. Crying is a stress reliever. Some children run away. Some find a quiet corner. Some discover creative outlets for their stress – art, music, dance, theater.

Art is a great stress reliever and children who participate in Expression Sessions can be the beneficiaries.

“Children can express their feelings through art – happiness, anger, love, sadness,” said Dawson, who initiated Expression Sessions. “We provide them with art activities that are fun and also stress relievers. Expression Sessions is something children and parents can do together. CHCHC is proud to offer this opportunity to families and appreciate the support of the Daniel Foundation in helping making this creative art experience available here in Pike County.”

Ben Busbee, CHCHC administrator, said the child health center is proud to be able to offer Expression Sessions to the public.

“This new program is open to the public and it’s free. We invite everyone who is interested in learning about art and art therapy to join us,” Busbee said. “The children who participate in Expression Sessions will have pieces of their artwork for sale at TroyFest, the last weekend of April. All proceeds will support the Expression Sessions.”
Parents who are interested in Expression Sessions for their children may contact CHCHC at 334-566-7600 for more information.