SEATTLE -- On the surface, it may sound like an unusual pairing: A local children's medical clinic, partnering with a local artist. And not for waiting room decor- but rather for therapy. We stopped by the very first session of this so-called "L.A.U.G.H" workshop for kids with the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic to see what it's all about; and the hope is that this stress-relieving activity just might serve as preventive medicine for kids as they grow up.
The workshop is put on by Catherine Mayer of The Catherine Mayer Foundation, and she aims to give kids the freedom to express themselves through art in an unstructured but guided (and energetic) environment. While it may seem like it's all about just making a mess, the benefits seemingly go deeper than that. "I think what happens with some of these activities is that it puts the brain... into a meditative state without even realizing it," Catherine says.
Dr. Ben Danielson is a pediatrician and the medical director of the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, and he thinks that's just the tip of the iceberg. He's hoping to make this the first of many such workshops. "These kids come from very stressful backgrounds... and there's something therapeutic about taking a moment to spend time with a peer and do something creative," he says. In fact, he thinks it can help prevent the stress and disappointment in kids from manifesting into something more serious as adults. "I think of this as preventive mental health care," Dr. Danielson says. "I ought to be able to write a prescription for this!"
The parents who came with their kids saw the impact firsthand. "(It gives them) a way of letting it all out and it not being a way of them being judged... and they're not working within parameters, they're just having fun," Antwanette Lyons tells us. "I think it's important."
Catherine Mayer runs similar workshops for kids and adults from all different backgrounds throughout the year; and she's developed the L.A.U.G.H. app to bring some of these techniques to parents and kids to do at home. For details, click HERE to head to her website.