YSS Celebrates 40 Years With Youth Art

By Virginia Kovach
The 2017 Art Walk is almost here. On Friday, June 2, you will find artists displaying and selling their wares at most of the downtown businesses. It’s always a fun event, but this year has something special: YSS will be celebrating its 40 year anniversary.

While you browse downtown, make sure to stop at 420 Kellogg, the YSS building. They will have an open house from 4-6, honoring the achievements of YSS staff, volunteers, and alumni. Outside, they will display art by their youth.

Deanna Wheeler, volunteer coordinator, said YSS applied for a grant last fall for art supplies to help their youth express themselves. 

She said the residential treatment programs help youth who are dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues, and a lot of them have been through trauma.

“Because they are teenagers, I think they’re trying to figure out what they’re passionate about and they’re trying to identify ways to cope emotionally,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said art can be a good way for them to work through their emotions, as well asa way for staff to facilitate discussions.

Kenzie Hosch, a volunteer who works with the YSS art program, said she has enjoyed working with the youth. She helped both the girls and the boys make single painted canvases that show glimpses of their experiences.

Hosch said the girls’ canvas spoke a lot about what YSS meant to them and what sobriety meant to them. The guys used their canvas to communicate where they came from.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as doing something with your hands,” Hosch said. “It’s tangible. And you get to make mistakes and that’s okay.”

She said she looks to doodling or hand-lettering when she feels sad sometimes.

Anthony Bonner, residential program coordinator, said the youth are pretty excited about displaying their art.

“A lot of our youth exhibited great artistic abilities and we want to make sure we can maximize that and use that as a coping skill for them in real life,” Bonner said.

Bonner said that in addition to the art on display, YSS will have past members share their stories during the 40 Year celebration.

“We have really been able to help a lot of youth and they have really excelled,” he said. “Even when they do have some mishaps, when they get back home they still reach out and we can help them further, so really every case has been a success here.”

YSS has different facets: prevention, residential, and outpatient. The organization works with youth and families. Make sure you stop by during the Art Walk so you can learn about this important pillar of our community.