By Emily L. Ciraolo '08, BonAlumnus
||Katie Rogers graduated magna cum laude in May with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and art, but her legacy lives on throughout the local communities.
Rogers, a 2006 Mary Yankelovich Fellow, combined her passion for psychology with her love for art and care for the local communities. Yankelovich Fellows participate in a two-year leadership development program. On the basis of their junior year of training and their own interests, senior year Fellows design and execute a service project.
With her diverse background in psychology and art, help and guidance from the fellowship program under mentor Br. David Haack, O.F.M., and the spirit of St. Francis on her side, Rogers created an art curriculum called Drawing Families Together.
It encourages parents to work with their children on art projects in the hopes of fostering child-parent relationships and communication. Rogers based Drawing Families Together on the theories that communication is the process of creating and sharing meanings and that art is an incentive to form therapeutic partnerships when other means of communication might not be enough.
“Art is no longer an end, but a means,” she said. “The purpose of creating art together as a family is that it is in the action and working together that positive relationships are fostered.”
In 2007, Healthy Families Steuben County (HFS), a voluntary support program for new and expectant parents, adopted Drawing Families Together and has since recommended that all Healthy Families New York programs utilize this program. HFS is part of a statewide initiative, the Healthy Families New York Home Visiting Program, through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. HFS is also a credentialed site of a nationwide initiative through Healthy Families America provided locally through Kinship Family and Youth Services and the Institute for Human Services.
Families participating in Drawing Families Together through HFS must meet income and need-based requirements. They are often referred from other local human service agencies. Forty-four percent of mothers participating in HFS are under 21 years of age with the majority being unmarried and unemployed; 82 percent of children are recipients of Medicaid.
Throughout the course of a six-month pilot program, 90 families were introduced to Drawing Families Together and 60 families participated.
Families are given art supplies and are introduced to ideas of art programming and projects along the way through workshops.
While Rogers analyzed Drawing Families Together from a psychology standpoint to determine whether art can make a difference in these families, she determined one very important thing: “Whether this program creates statistically significant results or not, a population that is traditionally disadvantaged has exposure to arts programming.”
Drawing Families Together brought one mother back to her childhood — a time when she loved to create her own art. She said she was inspired to buy her own art supplies, allowing her to relieve stress and to be a better mother while her daughter sends her artwork to her father stationed in the military overseas, according to Rogers.
Stories like this, not statistics, demonstrate the program’s success, Rogers said.
“As a parent, you’re not doing art to create art. You’re doing it to take time out of your daily routine, to enjoy your children, get to know about them,” Rogers said.
More than 40 works of art from the children and parents who participated in the pilot program were showcased in The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on campus in the spring semester.
“The parents were thrilled,” Rogers said. “Many had never been on a college campus. It was a way for Bonaventure to open up to the community.”
HFS will continue to utilize the Drawing Families Together Program and Rogers will continue to analyze it. She plans to work with HFS on Drawing Families Together while volunteering for a year at Mercy Works, a program of MercyHome in Chicago. After that, she would like to teach English in Japan or begin a doctorate program in psychology.
“This fellowship really helped me solidify what I want to do with my future. I am very indebted to the Yankelovich Fellowship program,” Rogers said. “SBU was nurturing me the entire time. I couldn’t imagine getting so much support anywhere else.”
Drawing Families Together -- Complete Manual (PDF file, 8 MB)