Adult Coloring Books, All The (not so new) Rage

 

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There is a general buzz around the water cooler and for the first time in a while it’s not sport point spreads or Pinterest boards…well, kind of.

This latest and greatest rage was actually brought to my attention from a friend who mentioned the growing popularity of Adult Coloring Books on Pinterest. At first I was aghast, then sort of guffawed. It just seemed so out of the ordinary, but, if true, what an amazing relationship between what we are doing at The Crayon Initiative and this new rumor. So I went and checked. THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of pages and pin-boards dedicated to adult coloring! So I dug a little deeper. Turns out that this movement has been going on underground, for fear of being laughed at, for a very long time.

It also seems that within the last few months, this topic has gained steam like a 100 car freight train approaching a 10% grade….(did I ever tell you that I am a model train enthusiast?) I digress. Most of the pages dedicated to adult coloring books have just as many different places to purchase full books. These are not slightly more challenging pages from the movie Frozen we are talking about, these are often artist inspired templates replete with the details of a Sanskrit Mandala. The are designed to look like the type of meditative walking mazes you might find at a monastery, and for good reason, they serve the same purpose.

Psychiatric professional and Art Therapist Cathy Malchiodi said, “coloring books are a path to mindfulness, meditation and some kind of psychological nirvana” and medical professionals are seeing medical improvements in cancer patients and anxiety disorder patients. We kind of hate to say, “we told you so”, but…

But seriously, this is wonderful news. The benefits of art are not relegated to the youth. Many fortune 500 companies have begun putting coloring books in their break rooms and some college professors have been noted as incorporating them into their syllabuses.

If you really think about the timing of this therapeutic surge, it makes a lot of sense. Studies indicate “most people take a break from their creative hobbies during their transitional years of high school and college, but often return at the age of 26.” Who are these 26-year-olds? Well, they are the Millennials, the very group of people that are shaping all facets of business today. They are outside the box thinkers who are so technology savvy that they demand attention and are getting it. They are also extremely plugged in but know when they are reaching a max capacity for tech activity. Is there really any better way to unplug literally and figuratively than staying inside the lines with bright colors?

We for one applaud the movement and have always stood by the healing properties of art and coloring, heck we are building a company on the principal, but to see the thought of coloring books take center stage and not be scoffed at is more than we could have hoped for.

 

Art Does Heal

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The process of gathering crayons and recycling them is a multi-tiered process with truly measurable positive outcomes. On this blog, we have explored how we keep them out of our landfills and save the planet one colorful paraffin stick at a time, but the driving force is the medical miracles that can happen when a brand new, shiny crayon is in the hands of those that need them most.

Once our crayons have been gathered, sorted, melted, strained, molded and boxed, they go directly into the hands of the patients in Children’s Hospitals around the country. This is more than a “nice-to-have” for these kids that need the power of the rainbow so badly. We give them the tools to create that rainbow, and art has been proven to heal scientifically. Here is how:

Structure

Nurses and Doctors all over the country have been interviewed about their experience with inner hospital art programs and the effects they have had with their patients. The majority of personnel have reported that the structure being taught through art has helped the patients with their medication regimen as well as given them something to look forward to on a daily basis. The simple structure of art-time gives the child a sense of schedule and anticipation. The eagerness to create has dulled the edge of getting them to take their medications as the creative side and medical side get fed simultaneously. Nurses have also noted the depletion of stress in an art heavy department and Doctors site a lower readmission rate of patients involved in art programs.

Escape

Whether the child artist is sitting at home on their bed drawing, at a desk in school painting or in the oncology ward in their local hospital coloring, they are all united in a world far away when they get to open up their imagination. This escape is especially important to the child who is in a hospital setting. The desire to leave a confined area is never greater than when you know you can’t, but the imagination of a child is a powerful thing. When a child gets drawn into the world they are creating through art they come back feeling like they have been on a small trip. They had a reprieve, if only for a moment, from the realities of being in the hospital. They got to see magical things that exist only on their own personal canvas, and they did it without changing their gowns and often refreshed enough to face the next challenge. This alone is the magic of art.

Many hospitals have formal art programs, where actual professionals come in direct the children. Many of these directors are actually therapists that use art to allow hidden fears, anxieties, and trepidation to come to the surface so that they can be dealt with. The message that these patients receive before the crayon even hits the paper is that they are not alone and that there are people that care about their emotional well-being, and are available to help when they are ready.

Iva Fattorini, chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s Global Arts and Medicine Institute, says, “The arts create this communication channel. The hospital becomes home to some people. What do we actually do to address the emotional needs of people living in that hospital? How do we change their state of mind and perception of the hospital?” She continues “What we know is that art is not a commodity; it’s really a necessity,” she continues. “It’s really about infusing some beauty and spiritual values in the arts to people whose spirits needs to be uplifted. If good emotions and energy are transmitted through good art, it doesn’t matter where (patients) are, or who they are. It does help.”

When the thought of The Crayon Initiative came into our mind, we were flooded with directions that we could take it. The possibilities of positivity were endless and still are, but as the model began to take focus we realized that the people that needed to prosper the most from this endeavor are the very users of these waxy tools, and there are no better builders than those that are attempting to re-build themselves. Our hope is that one of our crayons will create the rainbow unicorn that will keep a child smiling tomorrow through the challenges they face today.