March 2013

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

Dear Friends and Family,

T., one of the 6th grade boys who comes to my (John’s) group at the after-school program, is especially fond of origami. We spend Thursday afternoons, while my other boys are working in Rachel’s sewing room, constructing various animals and objects out of paper. So far we’ve made a ninja star, a swan, a rocket and a butterfly. Our attempt at making an owl was unfortunately not as successful.

As a staff we’ve been learning about different methods of working with children who struggle with attachment and behavioral disorders. One of the things we’ve learned is that these children have an especially deep need to express themselves in a creative way. Instead of allowing their repressed feelings to be manifested through destructive behavior, the children’s energy needs to be directed positively into creating something. T. has responded amazingly well to this creative outlet of origami.

Our goal is for him to present an origami display at the end of the school year for our staff and for the rest of the school. He has decided to title the exposition “Things that Fly,” and will give a brief presentation about the history and meaning of the art of origami. Having this creative outlet is helping T. not only to express himself in a healthy way but to also learn in a deeper way that he is valuable and capable of doing good things.

Often the children who come to our program are told that they are stupid, crazy or foolish. It is no wonder that they, in turn, use similar words to describe each other. How they have internalized these words so deeply that they no longer see worth in themselves or in others!

And yet it is through creativity that they—and we—learn what is true. We are reminded of our worth, our value, our dignity. Maybe it would do us all a little good, as Picasso suggested, to get reacquainted with the inner artist living within each of us. Whether that means doing origami, baking pies or designing a building, it is in this process of creation that we rediscover who we are and reflect the image of God into the world.

With love,

John & Rachel

P.S. We are still looking for fundraising opportunities for the months of June and July. As we mentioned last month, our goal this summer is to connect people, businesses, institutions and churches directly to the work of La VIA. If you know of such a group that would be interested in learning more about our work, please email me ( as soon as possible. Or, if you would be interested in hosting a one-time fundraising event, please let me know that as well. We are open to traveling to different cities in the US.

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