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Art Therapy to support a new centre for youth in crisis

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A simple idea that snowballed into a big success last year is returning Dec. 6 as Art Therapy 2.0.

Art Therapy started as a fundraiser for local mental health and as a way for Shar Stock to work through some personal grief.

Together with friends including artist Laura Kreviazuk and event promoter Billie Jo Gage, Stock got about 40 artists to display and sell their work last year.

Then, she handed the $6,000 profit to Sarnia Speaks.

Kreviazuk convinced Stock her casual doodling was actually an effective way to cope with the sudden death of her boyfriend to heart disease, and the loss of a 19-year-old cousin to suicide.

Stock, a caseworker at Ontario Works, became convinced a connection with art could improve mental health services and facilities in Sarnia.

“I poured my energy into the first event and it was so much work for us,” said Stock. “I had to think hard before jumping in again this year.”

The deciding factor — she wanted to continue to honour her cousin’s memory and contribute to local mental health services.

This year’s Art Therapy 2.0 includes several new features including young artists like Kaleb Savoie, who will paint during the event.  About a dozen musicians will entertain throughout.

Sarnia favourites Evan & John are reuniting for a half-hour set at 8 p.m., and Rodney James Medwid will close out the evening.

The Sarnia Potters’ Guild is encouraging participation by offering tiles that can be etched (for a price) to eventually become wall art in a new facility planned for youth mental health and addiction treatment.

About 40 local artists have donated everything from paintings and photos to woodwork and ceramics, all to be raffled to raise money for the proposed Access Open Minds centre.

Stock chose to support Access Open Minds after Canadian golf pro Mike Weir jumpstarted the campaign for a facility dedicated to Sarnia’s young people aged 11 – 25.

“This is my hometown and I care about the youth here,” said Stock. “With my work, I see every day the difference an Access Open Minds centre could make for young adults, who are cut off now when they reach 18.”

She envisions a new facility providing treatment-based services in conjunction with Bluewater Health, St. Clair Child and Youth, and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Those agencies and others will be at Art Therapy to talk about what they want in the centre. All are invited to jot their thoughts down on a chalkboard wall.

Stock says she continues to experience the benefit of art in working through stress, grief and loss.

Her doodling has grown to full-on artwork that can be seen on Stock’s own products at Society6, an online shopping page that reproduces her designs on purses, furniture, pillows and more.



WHAT: Art Therapy 2.0, celebrating the therapeutic properties of artistic expression and raising money for Access Open Minds, a facility for youth.

WHEN: First Friday, Dec. 6.  6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

WHERE: theStory, 179 Christina St.

DETAILS: Event is free and open to the public. Art available for raffle.

The Arts Journal reflects Sarnia’s vibrant cultural community. Send your ideas to [email protected].

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