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How does art help homeless children?

The mission of drawchange is to empower children through art therapy-based programming. How can we actually help children experiencing homelessness? Kaitlin Schwan, a Senior Researcher at The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, provides research-based evidence of the benefits of art therapy and homeless children in her article: Can Art Make a Difference? Mobilizing Arts to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness. Schwan shares the “transformative and energetic power” art has to change the lives of homeless children.

Through the action of creating, children’s sense of self-efficacy, self-esteem, and individuality are affirmed.

Her findings also support art therapy:

  • Reduces Stress

  • Increases Relaxation

  • Aids In Mental Health Recovery

  • Healing Trauma

  • Facilitates Self-expression And Self-discovery

  • Increases Self-confidence

Dr. Sean A Kidd’s study finds that for homeless youth, creating art was “ vital to survival.” Drawchange recognizes this need and addresses it by utilizing art therapy-based practices.

The benefits of practicing art therapy with impoverished children are apparent. Schwan highlights that art therapy creates: A safe-space and judgment-free zone, Flexible structure

An opportunity for children to feel valued and appreciated for their talents, dreams, and needs. Additionally, it allows children to feel comfortable helping each other, seeking help, thinking of others, and learn listening skills. Through our seven core competencies of Imagination, Collaboration, Empowerment, Dream-building, Self-esteem, Creation, and Stress Relief, drawchange provides a safe space for children to dream of a better life. Jennie Lobato, founder/CEO of drawchange, shares “Once you can dream it and draw it, you are that much closer to making it a reality!



Kidd, S. A. (2008). “A Lot of Us Look at Life Differently”: Homeless Youths and Art on the Outside. SAGE Journals.

Schwan, K. (2017). Can art make a difference? Mobilizing the arts to prevent and end youth homelessness. Homeless Hub: Canada. Retrieved from

Schwan, K. J., Fallon, B., & Milne, B. (2018). “The one thing that actually helps”: Art creation as a self-care and health-promoting practice amongst youth experiencing homelessness. CHILDREN AND YOUTH SERVICES REVIEW, 93, 355–364. Doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.08.002

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