Friday, June 27, 2008

Hands Together, Heart to Art

A message from Executive Director, Brett Batterson

I'm about to share a very personal story with you.

This is something I really have to tell you about - something that means very much to me.

Pictured left, is me (middle) as a child with my family. One year later, my father died unexpectedly from a heart attack. As you can imagine, that moment changed my life forever.

Left to raise me and my two brothers, my mom worked hard to give us all the love and support she could - and she did a remarkable job making me the person I am today.

Looking back, however, I realize that my growth in life was strongly shaped in the arts. Through the arts, I found friends, encouragement, self-confidence and the ability to express myself.

To ensure that other children who have lost a parent would receive the same benefits as I did from an exposure to the arts, the Auditorium Theatre launched a ground-breaking summer program in 2004 called Hands Together, Heart to Art. And the results are truly inspiring!

Every year, nearly a hundred children throughout the Chicago area attend the camp. They have all endured one common, tragic event - the death of a parent. Many can't imagine how hard it is for the children to cope with their loss - but at Hands Together, Heart to Art, we give them hope, healing and confidence. We use music, theatre, dance and creative play to encourage the boys and girls to express themselves, interact and become more outgoing. Sessions with licensed healing counselors and interaction with other children who have experienced the same loss contribute to each child's healing experience.

Hands Together, Heart to Art is not a camp only for children who can afford it. It is a camp for children who need it. Although the cost of caring for each camper is considerable, we don't turn any families away for any financial reasons - that's why we rely on the kindness of friends to make this experience a reality.

Please give today - and you'll see how a donation of as little as $15 can make a big difference in a child's life.

I have been lucky in this job to have the privilege of meeting everyone from Princess Caroline to Luciano Pavarotti to Bob Dylan. But I assure you, not one of them has had as great an impact on my life as the children who have attended Hands Together, Heart to Art. And no work that I do is more important.

The children who come to Hands Together, Heart to Art are also looking for an outlet to help cope with their grief. We hope you can give them that chance today.

If you'd like to learn more about this unique experience, please watch this short video.

If you know of a child who would benefit from this incredible camp, contact Nicole Losurdo at: (312) 922-2110, ext. 353.

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