Camp teaches kids self-expression through art

ALABASTER – For two weeks, children participating in the Summer Arts and Coaching Camp learned about how they can use art as a way to express themselves and build confidence and self-esteem.

The camp, which took place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from July 8-20, was housed at the Alliance Community Development Center at 100 Mt. Olive Road. Free lunches were provided by Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Shernavian Vandiber, founder and executive director of Mending Hearts and Homes Family Outreach, created this outlet for children where they paint, draw, enhance their imagination, learn about and how to write poetry, perform skits and much more. Time was also set aside to practice reading skills, talk about peer pressure and bullying as well as to develop leadership and problem-solving skills.

Just two days into the camp, Vandiber said two children discovered their own passions for painting and drawing.

“They’re discovering gifts and talents they didn’t even know they had,” she said.

Vandiber, who received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Grambling State University, spent 18 years working with kids in the field of behavioral health and now she’s using her skills to give back to the community.

“It is my passion and my purpose to help them achieve their goals,” she said. “I want to help them make their dreams to come true and for them to reach their full potential. Over the years I’ve learned that a lot of kids have great talents, but their parents can’t afford for them to explore those talents by taking classes or going to camps.”

This year marked the first Summer Arts and Coaching Camp, but Vandiber founded Mending Hearts and Homes Family Outreach in 2002. The nonprofit has helped with juvenile intervention, literacy based educational programs, individual/family/group counseling, parenting classes, mentoring, self-awareness and self-esteem workshops and more.

Vandiber thanked Danita Ryan, founder of the Alliance, and Tonya Smitherman, executive director of the Alliance, for allowing her to use the Alliance’s community center to house the camp. She also recognized Walmart for donating gift cards to purchase needed supplies, and Queen Thompson, Michele Jackson, Wilhemina Mylam, Annie Kynard Hackworth, Shantiese Vandiber and Debbie Bowie for their help with the camp.