Clackamas County Arts Alliance’s Youth Arts for Change program just kicked off an exciting new chapter in the Artistic Minds Project (AMP). AMP is an arts program for the youth in residence at Parrott Creek Ranch, a long term residential treatment program for adolescent boys with a focus on developing sustainable and prosocial behaviors and skills that help them reach their full potential. The Ranch staff helps youth develop life skills, accountability and personal regulation so that they can become contributing members of society. 

Since 2012, Clackamas County Arts Alliance has been partnering with Parrott Creek Child and Family Services’ Ranch to provide art programming for its youth, engaging youth in comics and drawing. This new program represents an exciting expansion of our Youth Arts programming, utilizing photography, a medium that most youth are already familiar with, as a means for a creative exploration and expression.This writing and photography program in particular encourages youth to see themselves as artists and writers, engage thoughtfully about their subjects, and learn basic photography and image composition skills. Lisa Smith, one of the instructors said, “We are seeing amazing writing and photographs from these youth. It’s been really exciting to see their images each week!”

Neil Davies, Director of Programs, Parrott Creek Child & Family Services shared, “In the time that Parrott Creek has collaborated with CCAA, the youth in the program have benefited in many ways–from increased self esteem, to learning practical new skills, and finding new ways to express themselves and relate to their own stories.” 

He continues, “The ability of youth to experiment with art in a non-judgmental manner facilitated by adults who obviously care deeply for the youth they work with has been liberating and has helped youth progress in their treatment and achieve new understanding for themselves. The staff of the Arts Alliance are professional, empathetic, and a joy to work with as they understand the true meaning of a collaborative effort.” 

Mikah Neff, an Arts Alliance instructor for this class added, “This partnership shows how two organizations with overlapping goals can work together productively. It’s a real joy to come every week and see the progress the boys are making in both their artistic process and learning to be more thoughtful in their compositions and being open to feedback, as well as in their artwork.”

This photography program is taught by CCAA staff members Lisa Smith and Mikah Neff. Lisa has her Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Mikah has almost ten years of experience teaching art in various mediums.

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