Katrina Healing Arts Program

Hurricane Katrina that hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in August 2005 was the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States, killing at least 1,836 people and costing in excess of $100 billion in damages. The worst property damage occurred in coastal areas, such as all Mississippi beachfront towns, where the water reached 12 miles from the beach. Four years later, thousands of displaced residents were still living in trailers and the trauma that the children had faced lived on unnecessarily.

Joshua Santamore, age 11, Mississippi

The outpouring of international support matched that of the 9/11 tragedy. Over seventy countries sent donations and other assistance, including Cuba and Venezuela. Kuwait gave $500 million, Qatar and the UAE $100 million each, and even Bangladesh pledged $1 million to aid the survivors.

In September 2005, the ICAF launched the Katrina Healing Arts Program in schools along the Mississippi beachfront when they reopened. Working with the Mississippi Association for Gifted Children and drawing on the experience and knowledge gained from its Tsunami Healing Arts Program, the ICAF updated its Guidelines for use by gifted education teachers. Schoolchildren went through the several phases of the program and their artwork revealed the progress they were gradually making. In October 2005 a major earthquake (similar in size to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake) hit northern Pakistan. The children of Katrina, as the final phase of the program, made “encouragement art” to send to children in hospitals and shelters in Pakistan. As an act of international diplomacy, the ICAF has exhibited the Children of Katrina artwork around the world and continues to do so.

Thanks to the program supporters which included: Caran d’Arche, Education Without Borders (Abu Dhabi), Higher Colleges of Technology (UAE), IBM (Portugal), Lisbon City Council, Military Club of Sofia (Bulgaria), Minister of Defense (Bulgaria), Miranda Correia Amendoeira & Associates (Lisbon), QZ Qalasi Art Gallery (Baku, Azerbaijan) and Zen-Do (Bahrain). Katherine Carpenter, Stephanie Schepens, Kim Wise and especially Shirley Hardman provided invaluable services to the program.

As Criança do Katrina – Museum of the City of Lisbon (400Kb jpeg download)
Children of KATRINA – Military Club of Sofia (1.7Mb jpeg download)
Children of Katrina – 2009 Education Without Borders (2.3Mb pdf download)

Useful Material:
Katrina Healing Arts: A Schoolteacher’s Perspective (21Kb pdf download)