Arts Collective Launches Youth Mental Health Initiative


Art leaders from around Logan County will launch Stress Less!, an arts-based mental wellness program created for youth in grades 5-12, in September at the Holland Theatre and the adjacent LoCo Art studio.

The focus is to develop arts-related coping skills, and tools for dealing with stress and anxiety, and to foster creativity, confidence, and self-worth in youth through artistic expression.

The program kicks off on September 27, 2023, with three six-week after-school sessions throughout the school year. Sessions will be held on Wednesdays from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Stress Less! Summer Camp will be held in June 2024.

“Our Stress Less! program empowers students to use the arts as an outlet in their daily lives,” says Myles Bowers, LoCo Art co-director and Stress Less! music lead. “We’ve put together quite a team of community artists, leaders, and organizations to aid our local youth. It’s through this program that I hope students can see the beauty, joy, and comfort that the arts can provide them throughout their lives.”

“The Logan County Art Center is committed to growing the Stress Less! program, collaborating with local artists and partnering organizations,” shared Jennifer Davis, LoCo Art co-director and Stress Less! visual arts lead. “It is wonderful to feel the support of our community as we strive to make a lasting impact on the lives of Logan County youth. Positive results are inevitable when caring groups team together.”

As part of their grant funding the Stress Less! team participated in the Ohio Arts Council’s KickstART program, a collaboration between the Ohio Arts Council and Bellefontaine native Jane Hess Collins, to help rural communities address local needs by employing local artists. Collins, a Bellefontaine High School graduate who now resides in Alexandria, Virginia, is the founder and executive director of Heard, a nonprofit organization that funds local artists to bring creativity and life skills to people in need.

KickstART also supported an arts initiative in Portsmouth, where artists and the community collaborated to create public art across the city. Other rural Ohio communities are expected to launch KickstART projects later this year.

The Stress Less! agenda offers visual arts from September through November, music from January through February, theater arts from March through April, and a variety of arts as part of the June summer camp.

The Stress Less! team includes Myles Bowers, co-director of LoCo Art and Benjamin Logan High School music/ band director; Jennifer Davis, co-director of LoCo Art and Benjamin Logan High School visual arts teacher; Nancy Funderburgh, President of the Logan County Art League; Alayna Levingston, a music therapist with Community Health & Wellness Partners; Greg Titus, executive director of Holland Theatre; and Kris Swisher, board president of Holland Theatre.

Stress Less! programming is made possible by generous funding from the United Way of Logan County’s Community Impact Grant as well as state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature
to the Ohio Arts Council. The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.
Additional funds were provided by Hess Lumber and the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center. The Stress Less! team also thanks Community Health & Wellness Partners for contributions made to the program’s mental wellness practices and activities.

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