Art Rocks: Kwajalein Girl Scout Begins Painting Workshops To Address Mental Health

By Jessica DambruchMay 12, 2022

Kwajalein resident Kendal Warren has invited U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll to join her mission.

Warren delivered her call to action in a project briefing to USAG-KA Commander Col. Tom Pugsley, March 3, 2022, along with members of the garrison command team and a panel of community experts. Her Girl Scout Gold Award project proposal will utilize free communal painting workshops to reduce stress and to address mental health, she said.

“I was nervous,” Warren said, of giving the briefing,” but this project is really going to help Kwaj.”

Community members can volunteer to decorate a river rock donated by Nan, Inc., for the project. While painting, artists can check out resources on mental health and enjoy the chance to create a small work of art. Completed works will be displayed in a wooden bin installed outside the Kwajalein Art Annex, said Warren’s father, Darin.

Warren will chronicle her progress and the finished rocks on a project website with KAG support. The site will also advertise upcoming workshop locations. Students enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade will attend workshops at the art studio classroom of Jane Christy, project advisor and George Seitz Elementary School art teacher. Teens and adults will attend workshops at the Art Annex.

When the capstone project is completed, Warren will earn the highest GSA program honors available to Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts. Her endeavor is supported by the Kwajalein Art Guild; Nan, Inc.; the Kwajalein Employee Assistance Program; the Warren family; and The Kwajalein Hourglass.

Warren hopes the project will offer the Kwajalein community a creative outlet. So, while island residents can help Warren with the project, the project may help them, too.

“We are really isolated out here in the Pacific Ocean, and a lot of us haven’t seen our families in the states in a long time,” Warren told Pugsley during her briefing. “That can be very frustrating. Some people are struggling, and no one even sees it. I’m hoping my project will reduce or prevent stress and depression.”

Warren, who said she has studied art for all 12 years of public education, finds that in addition to mental health, the challenging pace of life can pose obstacles for adults and children alike. Battling “island fatigue” or stress is one of Warren’s main goals. Her solution: create.

“Art is a great way to relax,” Warren said. “I’m hoping it will help other people too. … Lately, people are very disconnected from society because of technology and social media. Even I feel like I get sucked into that. I’m hoping this will be a way to help people reconnect.”

Interest in the project is likely to grow as word spreads. What if not all of the rocks fit into the planned display frame?

Pugsley encouraged Warren to consider inviting painters to locate additional places to place painted rocks a surprise for anyone taking a stroll.

“I know whenever me and my family find something like that, it always brightens our day,” Pugsley said.

Following the briefing, and moving one step closer to her final project, Warren said she felt good about continuing her work.

“You have given this idea a lot of consideration and thought, and I approve this project,” Pugsley told Warren. “We look forward to how this project can benefit the island community.”