Since 2018, Founder, Executive Director, and thriving visual artist, Chanda Epps has blended her skills and passion for creative expression with a great desire to provide an outlet for young people. As a first-hand witness to the unique, and often challenging obstacles that many of them face, she felt compelled to be proactive in creating a solution, and formed a team of like-minded individuals to support the process.
LLPF’s mission is to connect with youth and young adults through art and engagement. By creating positive, art inspired interactions, we encourage and empower youth to simply, yet profoundly explore their own creativity and imagination. The process is therapeutic - a safe, healthy way to release stress.
We demonstrate how to use the creative process as a positive coping strategy by showing participants how to relax, have fun and “unplug” from the common stressors that plague our society. These experiences heighten their enthusiasm about art and provides them with a safe space to enjoy the exploration of working with different art mediums, including graphic art. Many of them develop interest in pursuing a productive artistic activity as a future career.
Traditionally, art was offered in school as a resource. However, many students did not have full access to it outside of the school day. LLPF recognized the great benefit of having that and set out to fill the gap. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic exasperated this lack of access by creating an increase in barriers. As children began to attend school from home, challenges with engagement increased, and art had to take a back seat to core classes. In addition, due to mandated restrictions, we had to discontinue our in-person art sessions and events. As a result, the need for this creative outlet grew, as did our need to ensure consistency for our own organizational sustainability.
We proactively responded by creating additional innovative ways for all parties to stay engaged. We continued to create opportunities to provide online art programs, and we increased our outreach efforts through our new Art Speaks! Art Kits initiative, where we distribute kits to students at school, quarterly. Art Speaks! Art Kits contain art supplies, art prompts, and information about our organization, with rotating themes, like painting, drawing/sketching, and crafts. They provide students with everything they need to explore art as an outlet at home, at no cost to them. This is especially helpful during the isolation of the pandemic, which has been particularly difficult on our youth.
Chanda J. Epps, Founder + CEO
Art is for everyone - Keith Haring