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.

The Color of Music (pt. 1) Flowers Are Red

 

music

The visceral feel and smell of a crayon can bring any adult back to an easier time. Too close ones eyes and know that a box of waxy colors and a blank piece paper was the only passport you needed to travel as far as the moon, face your fears or live every dream imaginable. Music really is no different.

In this series we will dissect songs that have affected each of us in different ways, and have that same visceral power to whisk us away to a different time and place with the strategic placement of our ear-buds.

 

Flowers Are Red by Harry Chapin

 

If an organization was ever built around the meaning of one song, then this song is our unofficial anthem!

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and he started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw

 A clear introduction to the power of crayons, paper and an endless imagination built on the infancy of worldly observations. Limitless in their possibilities.

 

And the teacher said, “What you doin’ young man?”
“I’m paintin’ flowers” he said
She said, “It’s not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red”

 A simple comment from a jaded adult, delivered with little thought but with the effect of Thor’s Hammer.

 

“There’s a time for everything young saw
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one”

 “A way it should be done”. In this line we get our first real punch to the stomach. This is the oppression of an influential and stronger person instilling their will to mold another human beings whole future, and not for the better, as it should be done by an adult in power.

 

And she said, “Flowers are red young man
And green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen”

 At this point, we feel terrible for the child because we are behind soundproof glass and want to yell “THAT’S NOT ACCURATE”. We find solace in the fact that currently the world does reward those that color outside the lines, and think outside the box, but still, poor little guy. Just hold on a little while longer.

 

 But the little boy said
“There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one”

This is the child’s first attempt at standing up for himself against oppression, a glimpse that there is a free thinking fire naturally placed inside his soul that can manifest itself in spoken word.

 

Well the teacher said, “You’re sassy
There’s ways that things should be
And you’ll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me”

And she said, “Flowers are red, young man
And green leaves are green

There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen”

 The refuge of an ignorant person has, and always will be, the reliance on brute strength to win an argument of the minds.

 

But the little boy said
“There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one”

 He continues to fight for what he feels is right, even if he doesn’t know exactly why, or the importance of every step he is taking.

 

The teacher put him in a corner
She said, “It’s for your own good
And you won’t come out ’til you get it right
And are responding like you should”

Once again, our Goliath continues to pound with clenched fists, not really knowing how to digest all of the pushback she is getting on her own belief system form such an unassuming opponent.

 

Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said

 And he said
“Flowers are red, and green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen”

 This is a sad point in our story. The boy has been physically beaten, but his message remains strong in it fortitude. He is simply unable to keep the fight alive physically, so he has succumbed.

 

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found

At this point, a sliver of sun begins to break the horizon of this boys life, and we assume that he is completely unaware of the possibilities that removing yourself from a negative environment can hold.

 

The teacher there was smilin’
She said, “Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let’s use every one”

In the book/movie Matilda, there is the teacher Ms. Honey that sweeps in and shows her that life is beautiful and different for everybody. She shows that all interpretations of the world we live in are correct, because they are personal. This is our boy’s introduction to his own Ms. Honey.

 

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said

And he said
“Flowers are red, and green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen”

 Our song ends on a cliffhanger. Clearly the boy has been so badly beaten that he is weak. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been so badly beaten if he never fought back. However, every interaction that he has with “Ms. Honey”, with no further interactions with the evil Ms. Trunchbull, provide hope that this young moldable mind will find his way back to painting the world however he sees it!

 

 

 

The Environmental Impact of Our Friend the Crayon

 

Green Crayon

 

For most of us, the very first art gift that we were given was a crayon. As we begin to have little’s of our own, we celebrate the day that we get to present them with their own box of infinite possibilities and creation.

 

As time passes, and the children grow with every feverish picture, we become privy to the sad last little nub of the crayon that had an arguably illustrious career. Oh, the things that this tiny, non-useable nub, has created. Purple monsters, blue ducks, space adventures or sea voyages cut short by pirates flying the Jolly Roger. You have done well little nub, but your time is up and I must replace you. Or even sadder is the crayon just removed from the box that promptly breaks in that one mathematical junction that renders the two crayon halves cumbersome and challenging to use. This crayons life has ended before it has begun. Never will this crayon live up to the potential that it was intended for. Without much of a thought, we declare these crayons “unfit”, so into the bin with you both.

 

If the advances and progress that our environmentally aware public has made are to be true, we owe it to our planet as well as ourselves to stop and ask, “where do these used and broken creators of dreams go to?” Certainly we understand that the garbage bin is not a magical portal that will break down our crayons on a molecular level, thereby erasing their existence. As a matter of fact, their journey has just begun.

 

Traditional crayons are sticks of paraffin wax, which is a by-product of petroleum or crude oil. Paraffin wax, colored pigments, and often other byproducts, are combined to make crayons.

This wax is NOT biodegradable. It is true that in the right type of environmental factors, crayons can break down over time with the assistance of bacteria, but the number one factor necessary for this to happen over a double digit to multi-century process is exposure to air. Now, admittedly, I have never personally been buried in a landfill, but I am willing to bet that there is little to no air flow under the heaps of other garbage and earth. Therefore, the breakdown process for crayons can take 100’s of years. In addition, crayons mixed with by-products can cause low-carbon pollution.

More than 12 Million Crayons are made in the United States every day! Every 100 new crayons equal about 1 pound, which totals out to 120,000 pounds of being manufactured and distributed daily. Just for the record and to put more of a “WHAT” factor in place, that is 60 tons of petroleum-based paraffin wax that will eventually find their way to landfills. We estimate that roughly between 45,000 and 75,000 pounds of broken crayons are discarded in landfills throughout the country annually.

 

This is a travesty and should be taken into consideration, and most certainly one of the cornerstones that The Crayon Initiative was built on.

 

Let’s go back to our tiny little nub that has served us so well, but this time, let us realize that by throwing him or her into the bin for simple disposal is only the beginning of its life here on the planet. Wouldn’t that life be better served as a recycled form of their glory days and in the hands of a deserving child that can realize all the potential of sea and space voyages for a whole new block of time? Not only do we believe this, but also every child’s movie ever made about inanimate objects would agree.

 

After they are created, crayons sole purpose in life, is to bring imagination to life, and they are designed to do so for decades, certainly not live under a pile of other household trash for centuries.

 

So remember the next time it’s time to buy new crayons, we should take into consideration that we are merely renting them.