Project Fire offers trauma recovery and healing through glass art

Project Fire offers trauma recovery and healing through glass art

CHICAGO (CBS)– Two young men, injured in shootings, changed their life paths

“It’s nothing right now to me, but first I was like I can make this? Now I know how to make vases and cups and bowls,” instructor Deaunata Holman said.

Holman also knows how to fight fire with fire. Just about eight years ago, he was a kid spending a lot of his time on the streets, until he got shot and ended up in the hospital.

“My mama wouldn’t come to see me, it felt like nobody cared about me,” he said.

At just 14, he had to make a decision about where the rest of his life would go.

“I was shot up and hurt, what else am I gonna do, go back to the streets and get messed up again?” Holman said.

Instead he came to Chicago’s Garfield Park community where he found Firebird Community Arts and Project Fire. It’s a trauma recovery program that partners with the violence recovery group Healing Hurt People Chicago.

Hospital social workers and psychologists meet with young people who have been shot to help them process the trauma and rebuild.

Twice a week, there are three hours of creating glass art and one hour of counseling.

But why glass art?

“It does something for young people who are drawn to risk behavior,” Executive Director Karen Reyes said. “Whatever is going on in your life, your heart and your mind needs to be set aside while you blow glass. It’s a hot, dangerous thing and we need to focus on it.”

“It’s a place where you can get away from your problems,” A participant told CBS 2. “They go above and beyond. They do stuff they ain’t gotta do.”

After he was shot seven years ago, Lynquell Biggs couldn’t even watch TV for fear he’d see images of people getting hurt. He credits the Project Fire staff for his strength.

Project Fire’s extended family is the East Garfield Park community. The artists and their neighbors have embraced each other.

“The wonderful people who live here, there’s families all along the streets that border us. we’re opening our doors to them to do more public programming,” Reyes said.

That works for both Deaunte and Biggs, who now are Project Fire instructors and professionals. They even sell their art.

But it’s the feeling of security Project Fire has given them, that really made the difference.

“I want to keep doing this. I want to do good in life,” an artist said.

Firebird Community Arts is working to raise money to move into a new, larger facility.

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