Creative expression has the ability to benefit us in many ways, not only as a source of enjoyment, but also in a therapeutic capacity. Aimee Lowrance understands this well; she is the founder of A Brush of Hope, a nonprofit organization in Lebanon dedicated to improving the lives of young girls through art. Cincinnati Parent spoke to Lowrance about the inspiration behind her organization and the kind of impact that artistic expression can have on young people.
You founded A Brush of Hope in 2013. What motivated you to start an art-based non-profit for girls?
That summer my 10-year-old daughter’s best friend broke her back in a gymnastic accident. She came and spent a few days at my house after she’d gotten her back brace on and we sat at the table and made art together. As she was doing art she would talk about how her summer was ruined because she couldn’t do anything, but then she’d go into these thoughts like oh my gosh, what if my back never heals? As we sat making art, she was working through these things in her mind, flip-flopping between 10-year-old thoughts about summer and more serious thoughts about if she would recover.
About a week later, I was on a morning run and I thought that I would really like to start a program where girls could use art to cope with some of the situations they are going through. I wanted to work with young girls who were struggling in many different areas and use art as a character builder and a coping mechanism and to help girls support and connect with their peers.
How do the girls in your program get involved with A Brush of Hope?
A lot of girls come to us recommended by guidance counselors or teachers and we reach them during the day in their schools. We go into schools around Montgomery, Butler and Warren Counties. We also get girls referred to us by pediatric counselors and they can come and do groups in our studio. There’s also word-of-mouth. Parents may have a daughter who is struggling to connect and make friends and they can register on our website and find a group that works for their daughter.
How can the community best support your organization?
We always need women volunteers who would love to work with girls. We work with preschoolers all the way through high school and serve about 400 children over the school year. Our teachers are volunteers who commit to staying with a group of girls through the whole school year. The teachers provide a nurturing and safe environment for the girls and the girls realize they are important enough for someone to show up for every week.
We also need women who are willing to work behind the scenes – whether it is social media or donation collection. Also, every organization can use monetary donations. If we don’t have them, we can’t stay in business.
Why is the work you do at A Brush of Hope so important?
Most of us at A Brush of Hope have said at one time or another, “Wow, if we had had something like this to go to during those hard, formative years it would have made such a difference.” A lot of our girls thrive knowing that they have this group to go to where they can let their hair down and be themselves for a little while. We’ve seen introverted girls get involved in extracurricular activities, grades go up and family relationships get better. That’s why we keep doing it, because we see these results.
To learn more about A Brush of Hope visit their website at www.abrushofhope.org.