National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is from May 1 – 7, 2011. This year, we want to recognize the work of Roxy Azuaje who has been assisting our Marketing Department with her creative photography. For the past couple of months, Roxy has been working with the Federation of Families of Miami-Dade to create, facilitate, and implement photography into their art therapy programming. The Federation of Families of Miami-Dade is a non-profit organization comprised of families that educate and guide families of youth that have mental health and/or substance abuse issues. The goals of the organization include educating the community for improvements in the system of care and linking families to appropriate services.
The ages of the teens range from 12 to 17 years old, and most suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. With the use of some digital cameras, Roxy has been able to engage the youth and provide them with a new art form to express their creativity.
During the two-hour photography workshop, Roxy helps the students see beyond what’s in front of them. She provides them with still objects, which often include Passion Growers’ roses, and allows the students to create an image that is meaningful to them. Passion Growers’ roses also let them experience nature in an otherwise sterile environment. Roxy says, “The colors of Passion Growers’ roses help stimulate things inside of them. I let them do whatever they want with the flowers and they’re very gentile with them, and they can get really creative with the stems and petals.”
There are currently nine institutions that Roxy is working with to provide her photography workshops. Many of the youth have severe mental disabilities which prevent them from leaving the buildings where they’re housed. Roxy often freezes the roses and petals to preserve them and then let the students create images like peace signs, hearts and more.
In recognition of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, the Federation of Families will be sponsoring FACES First Annual Family & Youth Empowerment Summit at Jungle Island. The event is to celebrate the resiliency and recovery of underprivileged youth in our community who overcome daily challenges associated with mental health and substance abuse. During the event, Roxy will create a photo competition for the students.
Passion Growers is honored that our roses can provide a creative means for these at-risk youth by helping them to work towards wholeness and healing through Roxy’s photography programs. We are proud of the community work that Roxy is doing and appreciate her willingness to give back and offer new and innovative ways to be creative and help the teens overcome their obstacles in life.