VICENZA, Italy – When Michelle Sterkowicz delivers art kits to Soldiers at U.S. Army Garrison Italy, she often sees them come to the art center to say thanks for the supplies.
Sterkowicz, the art center’s program manager, said one Soldier forgot how much he loved to draw. She has worked in partnership with volunteers and organizations to help discover the benefits of art during COVID-19. They created “Resiliency Through Art” quarantine kits for community members.
“We are so very happy that we were able to help during this difficult time,” she said, “We hope that people don’t forget to stay in touch with their creative side.”
So far, they handed out 700 art kits. They include paint, colored pencils, modeling clay, wire and coloring sheets. They brought them to Soldiers in Caserma Ederle’s quarantine barracks and families in staying at Villaggio Army Family Housing. Others went to troops at U.S. Army Health Center-Vicenza.
According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic has caused changes to many individuals’ usual activities, routines or occupations, and also on their ways to adapt, especially during quarantine and its effects.
Lisa Andreucci, a USAHC-V licensed clinical social worker said the program can benefit community members.
“The art center response to the lockdown is innovative,” Andreucci said. “It is a way of reaching Soldiers and Families in their homes and providing an opportunity to express self and find something available during a time of unprecedented isolation.”
Being new and in quarantine, alone or with family, can be challenging, said Sterkowicz. Resiliency through art, a program she leads, shows how art can help be a healing tool, something that can benefit newcomers arriving amid the pandemic.
Installation Management Command-Europe helped fund the initial one hundred official individual art kits that were delivered to several locations, including local houses and barracks where community members were under “restriction of movement,” a COVID-19 mitigation effort. The Vicenza Community Club, Wounded Warrior Project and the American Red Cross were partners in the effort.
“Through our partnership, the VCC was able to ensure the art center had the means to expand an existing program and make it accessible to those looking for a creative outlet of self-expression,” said Christine Swanson, a VCC representative.
Sean Morton, director of the garrison Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said the art project is just one of the ways his team is supporting Army community members in Vicenza and Livorno.
“FMWR is committed to providing Soldiers, family members and civilians with coping mechanisms when dealing with stressful situations through creative programs and services,” Morton said.