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 Art Inspires Change at Reflections School

(Courtesy of County News Center)

Initially, the teenage faces look a little impassive when told about the art project they are going to undertake that afternoon: metal embossed frames which can hold a mirror or a photograph. But the appearance is misleading, because soon enough they are selecting a design and watching attentively as a volunteer teaching artist explains what they'll need to do.

"It's kind of like therapy," said Monica, 16, a student at Reflections School​ in La Mesa, as she works on her frame. "I've been here a couple of times. It's relaxing and it's quieter than the classroom."

The teenagers have all been ordered by courts to attend Reflections, run by County Probation and the County Office of Education. Some of the students have committed serious felonies. All of them have emotional issues such as anger problems or inability to deal with stress. The dozen or so kids in this group wer​​e selected to participate based on good behavior and interest in arts.

Every Thursday, Correctional Deputy Probation Officer Janine "J" Tolan takes a group of kids on a field trip to A Reason to Survive (ARTS) studio in National City where they work in various media such as paints, mosaics, ceramics and pottery. They create projects such as papier mache skulls, memory books, domino and shrink art jewelry, woven paper greeting cards and a conservation-themed mural for Mary Lanyon Fay Elementary School.

Read the full story on the County News Center website.