HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - For Lamar County Resident Ivey Swan, encouraging children to express their feelings in creative ways, such as art, painting, dance and music is nothing new. Recently the Ole Miss senior was pressed into using her arts advocacy in a different way. Visiting the Sumrall Day Care Center that was displaced by the recent tornado, Swan was able to use the healing and therapeutic qualities of the arts to help Lamar County's youngest storm victims overcome their fears.
On task at the center's temporary home at Sumrall Methodist Church, Swan explained, "Children who have experienced disasters, even just through graphic media coverage, may not be able to talk about it or express the feelings disaster triggers in them. The arts can help ease the pain of trauma."
Using coloring books that feature her original signature paintbrush character "Artie," Swan was able to not only foster the talents of these budding artists but also able to ease their minds about a disaster and fears that they could not possibly understand. Artie has become a symbol for arts passion and has recently partnered with Festival South and The Hattiesburg Arts Council to herald their children's arts programs.
"Communicating and coping is the key," acknowledges the newly -crowned Miss Hattiesburg. "The Pine Belt Spirit is at work – and despite unimaginable losses, progress is being made. Community by community. Block by block. Neighbor by neighbor."