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Facilitating the Arts in Disaster Relief Shelters

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This book is a guide for training and using artists as first responders when a disaster occurs. In the Fall of 2005, the Central Louisiana communities of Alexandria/Pineville were host to over 15,000 evacuees who had fled for their lives when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Louisiana coast. Central Louisiana Arts & Healthcare, Inc. sprang into action and worked hand in This book is a guide for training and using artists as first responders when a disaster occurs. In the Fall of 2005, the Central Louisiana communities of Alexandria/Pineville were host to over 15,000 evacuees who had fled for their lives when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Louisiana coast. Central Louisiana Arts & Healthcare, Inc. sprang into action and worked hand in hand with the Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies helping people heal and find hope and a sense of renewed purpose through artistic expression. Our artists spent approximately three months and countless hours in three huge hurricane shelters facilitating visual arts activities, yoga, dance and movement classes, music engagement and creative writing workshops. We were there every day helping people who had lost everything reclaim their dignity, their hope and their will to rebuild their lives. This book contains dozens of arts activities that can be used in disaster healing and an extensive bibliography of healing arts research and resources. This experience was life changing for all of us. It also proved the importance of including artistic expression in the healing process. We challenge other disaster prone communities to create their own data base of “healing” artists and train them to be ready to take on the role of first responders working side by side with other relief workers to bring wholeness and healing to people’s lives through the arts.


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This book is a guide for training and using artists as first responders when a disaster occurs. In the Fall of 2005, the Central Louisiana communities of Alexandria/Pineville were host to over 15,000 evacuees who had fled for their lives when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Louisiana coast. Central Louisiana Arts & Healthcare, Inc. sprang into action and worked hand in This book is a guide for training and using artists as first responders when a disaster occurs. In the Fall of 2005, the Central Louisiana communities of Alexandria/Pineville were host to over 15,000 evacuees who had fled for their lives when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Louisiana coast. Central Louisiana Arts & Healthcare, Inc. sprang into action and worked hand in hand with the Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies helping people heal and find hope and a sense of renewed purpose through artistic expression. Our artists spent approximately three months and countless hours in three huge hurricane shelters facilitating visual arts activities, yoga, dance and movement classes, music engagement and creative writing workshops. We were there every day helping people who had lost everything reclaim their dignity, their hope and their will to rebuild their lives. This book contains dozens of arts activities that can be used in disaster healing and an extensive bibliography of healing arts research and resources. This experience was life changing for all of us. It also proved the importance of including artistic expression in the healing process. We challenge other disaster prone communities to create their own data base of “healing” artists and train them to be ready to take on the role of first responders working side by side with other relief workers to bring wholeness and healing to people’s lives through the arts.

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