United Hatzalah of Israel and Artists 4 Israel distributed art therapy kits to families in southern Israel and held a program that included visits by graffiti artists who worked with teens to paint neighborhood bomb shelters. (photo from United Hatzalah of Israel)
At the end of last year, 75 families from southern Israel received specialized art therapy kits, thanks to a new project organized by United Hatzalah of Israel’s Team Daniel initiative. In conjunction with Artists 4 Israel, the art therapy kits were distributed Dec. 8-10, along with a program showing parents how to use the kits with their children and visits by graffiti artists who worked with teens to paint neighborhood bomb shelters. Various art therapists also participated in the events.
Last summer, during Operation Protective Edge, a group of Chicagoans was touring the Eshkol region as sirens blared. These community members were so moved by their experience and, after hearing about the death of 4-year-old Daniel Tragerman, decided to raise money to help the region. Some 50 Chicago families established Team Daniel to fund the training, placement and equipment needed for 100 United Hatzalah medics to service southern Israel. The new kits are given directly to the families of these volunteers, who often run out on a moment’s notice to attend to rocket attacks and other local emergencies.
“Because these particular families are committed to saving lives as United Hatzalah medics, it was important to us that we give them a way to cope,” said Brielle Collins, Chicago regional manager for United Hatzalah. “Art is such a powerful tool to give to people who are recovering from war, stress and tragedy.”
The arts kit was developed by experts from Israel and the United States in the mental health field in collaboration with the nonprofit Artists 4 Israel. It is hoped that the “first aid kit for young minds” will combat the effects of trauma and eliminate the chances of PTSD by up to 80% through self-directed, creative play therapies.
United Hatzalah, a community-based emergency medical response organization, has been distributing the kits in a pilot program throughout Israel since July.