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Harnessing the healing power of art
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People of all ages are trading in couch cushions for glue sticks in an effort to find relief from their pain and problems of their past.

Thanks to the local non-profit organization Off the Hook Ministries, children, youth and adults have a chance to create art in a safe place at their Healing Arts program. The program provides a safe environment for participants to feel understood and respected as a means of healing from violence and/or trauma they may experience in their daily lives.

 “When community members are impacted by violence and trauma, the key to healing is having the time and space to receive support and encouragement while looking inside to evaluate, process and re-tool how they view themselves,” said Sandy Hazenberg, founder and executive director of Off the Hook Ministries. “With art, the subconscious releases everything out on paper as hands express the heart and there is freedom to create whatever is needed.”

The Healing Arts program has been up and running since February. With a majority of the participants involved with the program being young kids between five and 12 years old, this opportunity allows a constructive environment for them to deal with the hardships of their past.

“Since our heart is to reach gang members, felons and ex-addicts, and since some gang members and addicts tag (…) art therapy is the perfect method to help bring healing to the hurting,” said Hazenberg. “All three of these populations typically have had some kind of trauma (neglect, abuse, abandonment) in their background that has gone unhealed.”

One of the major differences between this program and others like is it's spiritual influence.

“I am a licensed Biblical Counselor. As such, we can introduce these participants to the Great Healer, Jesus Christ, who gives hope and brings true, life-long transformation,” said Hazenberg.

The program also offers professional artistic guidance from Rachel Cross, the group facilitator. As a recovering alcoholic/addict herself, Cross has been teaching art to children since 2009 using a wide variety of artistic mediums.

Off the Hook Ministries also has several other programs aimed at helping troubled or at risk members of the local community. From their Tutoring Center open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to a job preparedness program called Work it Out. They are even in the works on opening a boxing gym called Knockout Fitness.

 For any questions about the Healing Arts program or any other Off the Hook Ministries information, visit