Walking Home to help children’s healing

SUPPORT: SalvoConnect Western art therapist Candace Schreiner helps children explore convey their feeling through art in a safe environment. Picture: Lachlan Bence

SUPPORT: SalvoConnect Western art therapist Candace Schreiner helps children explore convey their feeling through art in a safe environment. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Jordan and Billy* struggled to express emotions about what was happening in their world. Often Jordan would lash out in anger and display anti-social behaviour. Shy younger brother Billy had troubles making friends and his school work suffered from missing too much class.

Art therapy helped them to explore their feelings naturally through activities in a safe and healing environment with the SalvoConnect program when words were otherwise hard to find.

The boys had experienced family violence, including assault from their father, and watched their father’s violent behaviour towards their mother since they were born. He took his life when the boys were aged five and 10.

Housing had been unstable and Jordan had attended six schools by the time he was 12 years old. Their mum has ongoing mental health struggles, including post-traumatic stress and depression.

They first linked up with SalvoConnect seeking emergency housing. 

SalvoConnect Western’s Walking Home fundraiser boosts programs and supplies they, and other at-risk children need, to help explore their feeling and feel more like they belong at school and in activities with other children. 

Walking Home also funds counselling and play-based mother-child interventions to strengthen bonds and develop coping skills.

They boys have been linked up to sport – one in basketball, one in football – having not had the stability or finances to take part in organised sports before. They have also had extra tuition to help catch up in school. Art therapy played a key role in helping the boys adjust.

SalvoConnect Western art therapist Candace Schreiner role is to observe and gain trust without judgement. Ms Schreiner said art making could help with stress and encourage children to talk as they crafted.

"It can be healing and therapeutic for them to then talk about any issues and get it out on paper rather than holding feelings in,” Ms Schreiner said. 

Walking Home Ballarat is on Saturday, March 17, with start points at Smythesdale, Haddon or Lucas and all finishing at Victoria Park. Details: salvationarmy.org.au/walkinghomeballarat.

*The Courier has chosen to change the boys’ names.

  • If you have experienced family violence or need support, contact CASA: 5320 3933 Crisis care: 1800 806 292.
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14.