Student organizes fundraiser to help start art therapy program in Syria

Student organizes fundraiser to help start art therapy program in Syria
Pacific Ridge School sophomore Katie Meitchik helps to raise $2,725 so Syrian art therapist Massa Abujeib can return to her country to help children affected by the war. Courtesy photo

CARLSBAD — A local high school student raised nearly $3,000 to raise awareness of Syrian refugees.

Pacific Ridge School sophomore Katie Meitchik partnered with Syrian art therapist Massa Abujeib of the nonprofit Kids for Peace and held an art showcase on Nov. 30 at the school.

Meitchik raised $2,725 through a silent auction, as the proceeds will benefit an art therapy program, which works with homeless refugee children in Syria.

Abujeib takes art therapy into schools and local communities “to help people cope and deal with war suffering and traumas, bringing to their hearts and faces smiles generated from art.”

Currently, she is in Carlsbad as a fellow with Kids for Peace. She has resided in the city for the past several months, but plans to return to war-torn Syria and use art therapy to help children affected by the years long war.

Abujeib’s art therapy program teaches children “the meaning of communication, participation, dialogue, and self-expression to help them heal their sadness and anger through artistic activities which stimulate their imagination and nourish their humanity.”

All of the proceeds from the event will purchase supplies to bring to Syria. Abujeib has different programs she teaches the kids with all different types of media.

The conflict in Syria has escalated in recent weeks as rebel forces fight to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The neighborhood where Abujeib lives in Syria was bombed last week, according to Kids for Peace Executive Director Jill McManigal, yet she still plans to return in December to work with children.

“It’s a terrible situation and Massa recognizes that you have to have strong, courageous and brave peace builders to go there and offer strength to the country,” McManigal said.

Meitchik volunteers, meanwhile, with Kids for Peace and wanted to work with the program to help make a difference in Syria.

“Katie has always been very proactive in finding solutions and connecting her lessons to real life problems,” McManigal said.

After meeting with Abujeib, Meitchik worked with her teachers at Pacific Ridge School to organize the event.

“Katie has taken on all the aspects of making this happen,” McManigal said. “She is such a dynamic leader. It was beautiful to see her in action.”

Ethical responsibility is one of the three pillars at Pacific Ridge School to lead students toward a purposeful life.

Students are taught design thinking processes through problem solving. They must practice empathy to first recognize issues, both globally and locally, and then ask the right questions to provide solutions.

“Katie planned this because she is a great listener and she was able to synthesize all the information,” McManigal explained. “It will benefit not only the children of Syria but everyone in America who will get to learn about Syria.”

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