The Denver Post
About 18 students bounced between nervousness and overwhelming excitement as they showed off their work during a biannual art show Thursday.
"It just lets you have fun. It makes you feel proud," said 10-year-old Noemi as she showed off her artwork: a pirate spaceship in which an alien travels the galaxies rescuing princesses.
The alien art projects encompasses the two features — academic and mental support — that make the Intensive Day School, a center program at Valdez Elementary, unique.
"They are using that as a vehicle to express their needs and their creativity. For instance, they are making pillows for their aliens, blankets and pets so they learn about different needs," said Sarah Hammer, a full-time social worker at the school. "They're not always used to getting positive attention, so it's a really good opportunity for them."
The program started when a coalition of four mental-health advocacy groups got together to fund six projects, including the Denver Public Schools program.
The program aims to keep students in grades two through six with severe mental or emotional issues in school, as opposed to sending them out of the district to receive mental care. This way, program organizers say, mental or emotional issues don't make learning take a back seat.
Noemi's mother, Gerylann, is thrilled by the progress her daughter has made since she entered the program three years ago. She now reads at a partially proficient level, up from being unsatisfactory before starting the program.
" She's learning to use skills for controlling her aggravation, and she's able to talk with other kids," Gerylann said. "It's her ability to have a life. She actually laughs and smiles now."
The coalition stopped funding the program two years ago, but DPS has managed to keep the program running.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Friday, January 20, 2012
The Denver Post