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Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” New Day Youth and Family Services has taken that to heart in its mission to serve homeless and at-risk youth in the Albuquerque area.

It’s a New Day

In 1976 New Day was formed in response to a need for a safe, connected space for runaway and marginalized youth within Albuquerque’s community. Today New Day provides an intentional ecosystem of services that address the needs of young people who are experiencing homelessness and community disconnection, meeting them where they are in their journey. New Day’s mission is to “authentically connect young people to safety, the community and themselves.” At New Day, art is interwoven into the Life Skills Academy program which offers other classes such as Financial Literacy & Budgeting, Health Advocacy, Career Readiness and Yoga. A variety of other classes are available that support young people’s needs. The Life Skills Academy program partners with volunteers from the community who teach the classes and share their knowledge and experience with the youth. 

Art is Life 

Art is Life is one such class that lives within the Life Skills Academy at New Day. Instructor Albert Rosales, a local muralist and mentor, uses art, music, dance to create a unique approach to engaging youth in art. It is used as both an expression and a healing process where students can communicate feelings and experiences through their creations. The class is also offered at New Day’s Safe Home, a 24-hour shelter for youth. Community Connections Director Gabriella Chapman says, “Art is very integral to youth having an opportunity to express, to develop, to heal and to repair.” Several of the young people in the program have experienced challenging life situations, and being able to engage in art as a means of expression is an important tool in building the life skills they need to thrive. 

Art as Therapy

The Space, New Day’s youth drop-in center, provides community, connection and access to basic needs and essential resources for youth, ages 16 to 22. The Space has also created an opportunity for youth to engage in art therapy, through group, one-on-one and open art space sessions. Gabby Campbell, an Art Therapy intern and graduate student at Southwest College, creates an intentional and calming environment that invites young people to explore emotion, creativity and expression as a means of healing. “We find that, through art therapy, the youth have been very receptive to engaging in that process as it is an opportunity and space to explore emotion through the expression of art,” says Chapman. The art therapy group classes allow the youth to process complex feelings and emotions where art is used as a medium to communicate and share lived experiences.

To learn more about New Day’s efforts, go to ndnm.org.

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