On any given day, there are over 17,500 children in foster care in Arizona, according to Arizonans for Children (2016)—this means thousands of children struggling with familial separation, adjusting to a new living situation, and, often, coping with the effects of abuse or neglect.
To help counteract this dislocation and trauma, MIM is launching its pilot year of the Parhelion Project, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). MIM works with about seventy thousand children every year, including those in foster care, and this program will allow the museum to expand the impact of its youth workshops and performances.
“We were looking to create something a little bit more immersive—a day that could be a bonding type of experience [for children and their foster families],” says Patrick Murphy, MIM’s theater manager.
Because many foster children in Arizona come from immigrant families, Murphy also hopes that spending a day at MIM will help children celebrate their cultural heritage and discover new reasons to take pride in who they are and where they come from. This experience will feature an event for children and families that includes an interactive workshop, a performance at the MIM Music Theater, an opportunity to explore the museum, and a concluding group discussion. In collaboration with Free Arts of Arizona, an organization that works with abused and neglected children, the Parhelion Project is expected to serve about 160 foster children and their families in 2018.
Thank you, National Endowment for the Arts, for your important support of the arts and culture in our community!