It was a week of creativity and connections for participants of the third annual InspiRED initiative, which is a series of community events started by CoveCare Center’s prevention educators to celebrate Red Ribbon Week – a national awareness week to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.
This year’s InspiRED included four free parent-teen art nights across Putnam County, which took place Oct. 23 to 26.
The week started at Brewster Public Library, where artist Sarah Miller Totten instructed attendees to paint an autumn scene with birds. Parents and their teens worked together, blending colors and applying brush strokes onto canvas.
“The best part about painting is that no matter what you do, it’s always art,” said sixth-grader Jackson Malloy, who painted side-by-side with his mother. “I think when you make art with your relatives, it’s always a better experience because you can see their true art.”
CoveCare Center Prevention Educator Jillian Kulka welcomed more participants to Garrison Art Center on the second evening.
“Children of parents who talk to them regularly about drugs are 42 percent less likely to use drugs than those who don’t,” she said. “Yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations. Parents who have a positive relationship with their children and start to have conversations early and often about drugs and alcohol make a difference in how children make safe and healthy choices about substances. Parents are a very important part of prevention.”
Artist Candace Winter explained the mandala project, and then parents and teens set to work making colorful lines and shapes on old records.
“What a great event to spark conversation and bring us together to find creative ways to relieve stress and discuss difficult topics,” said parent Sarah Schick. “I loved spending time with my child and my neighbors.”
The following night, several more pairs of parents and teens joined artist Terry Fokine at Putnam Arts Council in Mahopac to paint a water scene. Step-by-step, the attendees layered paint and transformed canvases into works of art. Together, they learned new painting skills, relaxed, expressed creativity and had fun.
“The beauty of the masterpiece is your own unique touch,” said parent Carrie Riorden, who painted with her son Aiden.
InspiRED closed out at Arts on The Lake in Kent Lakes, where Sarah Miller Totten brought the serenity of a mountain vista to participants. Parents and teens alike offered suggestions, asked questions and supported each other’s creativity.
“I like painting and it was fun to share the experience with my family,” said Jayden Schlurensauer, who participated with his mother and grandmother.
With another Red Ribbon Week coming to an end, Kulka said she is thrilled InspiRED is now in its third year.
“We are beyond grateful to the community organizations and artists who partner with us to offer this free prevention activity to the families of Putnam,” she said. “The Prevention Educators look forward to bringing InspiRED to the community again next year.”
CoveCare Center is the only private, non-profit agency providing recovery-based mental health and substance use treatment and prevention services in Putnam County. It offers hope and healing to people of all ages through a range of services including individual and group counseling, care coordination, family advocacy, parenting education, community outreach and medication management. For more information, visit www.CoveCareCenter.org.