By Ms. Joyce Costello (USAREUR)
VICENZA, Italy- Developing resiliency or one's ability to adapt to adversity is an important function for Soldiers returning from deployments. Supervisory Arts Specialist Michelle Sterkowicz introduced a "Resiliency through Art" program at the Family and MWR Arts and Crafts Center in Vicenza in order to help Soldiers with the difficulties and challenges they face.
"Art therapy can assist with the transition of moving to a new country, help one cope with posttraumatic stress disorder and strongly benefit Soldiers and Families within military installations in dealing with everyday military life challenges," said Sterkowicz.
The program is based on art therapy techniques Sterkowicz studied through the Scuole di Specializzazione in Arteterapia (Specialized School of Art Therapy) in Pordenone, Italy. She stresses that the program is not about becoming an artist, but it is about trying something new and learning the endless creative possibilities in the world of art to find a medium that is comfortable and inviting whether it be making a collage, decorating a cane with images and words or working with clay.
"Many first timers to Resiliency through Art will immediately admit that they haven't used a colored pencil or worked with clay since kindergarten; this is often a way of them expressing their lack of confidence in the arts as well as their lack of interest," explained Sterkowicz.
Spc. Kevin Taylor, Warrior Transition Unit, said when he first heard about the course that he thought he was not an arts and crafts type person, but once Sterkowicz introduced him to clay, he was hooked.
"Once I gave it a chance, I realized I loved making things with my hands," said Taylor. "Growing up, my older brother was the engineer type and my younger brother was the artist type- I was the sports type."
Taylor joked that when he was young child and living in Arizona, the closes thing he got to being artistic with clay was when it rained in the desert he would cover himself with mud.
"Working with the clay reminds me of the simple feeling of playing in the mud," said Taylor. "It's amazing that you can do small stuff like this program that makes you feel better and that you can carry that good feeling with you throughout the day."
The program received a $1,000 donation from Vicenza Community Club to go towards funding art materials, Sterkowicz said.
"The goal is for the Arts & Crafts Center to continue Resiliency through Art programs using art therapy techniques as long as the community continues to support the program and become a model program for other Army installations to follow," said Sterowicz.
A formalized Resiliency through Art program will especially benefit redeploying Soldiers as they adjust to life after their combat experiences, according to Sterkowicz.