UNCW Partners with Community Groups for “JUST US” Program Connecting Arts and Resiliency

Thursday, March 25, 2021

UNCW has partnered with local school and community groups on a pilot program that uses art to help students express their feelings and develop resiliency skills. “JUST US” is being offered to seventh graders in several local middle schools, including UNCW’s D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy. 
Participants will learn: 
  • To understand and monitor their bodies when enduring stress and how to learn resilience in difficult times
  • How art can be a medium to express their feelings and tell their stories
  • To express their voices, using readily accessible items to create art that showcases their resilience 
Students will work with an artist to create work that represents self-reflection and resiliency. The culmination of the project will be a public exhibit of student art at the Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum April 1-18.  
The UNCW Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of the Arts collaborated with the Harrelson Center on the initiative. The curriculum was written by Janna Robertson, professor in the Watson College of Education, in collaboration with two WCE students. Local partners in addition to the Harrelson Center include the CAM, several New Hanover County public schools, the New Hanover County Resiliency Task Force, GLOW Academy, DREAMS Center for Arts Education, the Brigade Boys and Girls Club, the UNCW Restorative Justice Collaboration, Girls Rocking It in the South, Turning the Wheel and Working Narratives. 
The pilot program will incorporate North Carolina English Language Arts standards while featuring the artwork of Dare Coulter, a Raleigh-based artist. She has been commissioned by the UNCW Office of the Arts for another project and served as the inspiration for the pilot program.    
Future units may involve dance, music or other visual arts, said Kimberley Cheatham, outreach coordinator for OIDI.   
“JUST US aims to augment students’ ability to recognize, build upon and celebrate personal triumphs," she said. 
-- Tricia Vance