Dec 25, 2010

Gingerbread House Project

Each year, the street youth and I make a gingerbread house as an art therapy project. We make the structure from cardboard and then cover it with goodies. They eat as much as they can stand along the way. It is so much fun to watch the youth be kids again. And each year we write a story to go with the house. Here is this year's story. Note that each sentence or idea is contributed by youth as part of the group.
The land and money for our building were given by people who care about all the street kids we have lost this year: Tink, Andre, Meredith, Billy, Question, Yard Sale, Irene and others. The land is in Dallas and it is downtown. There are two buildings. There is a street in front and an alley in back.
The roof is flat so cool things can happen up there. They have a big evergreen tree on the roof. At night they have campfires and singing up there. The AA group meets up there at noon. The seats are logs from the woods. 

The building is very environmentally green. There are red gutters on the roof to collect water for the garden and for bathing.  
In the taller building, they have co-op rooms where street kids can stay. They have a kitchen. It's self service but sometimes people cool meals together. They have bathrooms and showers. Everyone can use them, including people who live there and people from the street. Because cleaning the bathroom is something nobody enjoys, they are completely tiled and they have arms like a dishwasher on the ceilings. They completely clean themselves after each person like a dishwasher or a car wash. 
Inside the co-op building, there are designated party times and non-party times. The rooms are specially built to be more sound proof than normal. There is one room for a clinic. There is a doctor who comes twice a week. The rest of the time people who know first aid help each other out. There is a room for people to detox. No drinking or drugs are allowed there but you can smoke. There is a special fan to clear out the smoke. 
The shorter building has a game room, a job center, and a computer lab. The arcade is a big deal. Kids get points for doing things like homework or other goals. They can also buy points with some of their paychecks. There is an ATM and a bank person who comes twice a week to help kids keep their accounts and credit history clean. There is a hospitality room where visitors from the community can drop in to see what goes on. Police, judges, doctors, lawyers, pastors, and local business owners came by and get to know the street youth. That way the community doesn't hate them as much. There are donuts and coffee all the time.

There is a shuttle bus that takes people to places in town: social security office, court, store and 

other places within two miles. 
There is a courtyard behind the building. It has trees and places to sit and relax. There are gardens. There is a pond. These are all great for detoxing and getting straight. 
One day a street girl named Kat came in needing a place to stay. She was resourceful and got a bunch of food from Walmart that they were throwing away. She exchanged it all for a night's stay. She had the first good night's sleep in a week. She slept until 11:00. She was very grateful for the co-op building.





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