Lindsay Walz is the founder of courageous heARTS, a new youth, arts-based organization in south Minneapolis geared toward middle-and-high-school students who need and want a safe place to go to grow and feel empowered.
Lindsay Walz also is a survivor of the 35W Bridge Collapse in 2007.
She spent five days in the hospital, five months healing a broken back, and going on six years dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. Amongst the doctors, support groups, and therapists, Lindsay found the process of expressing herself through art to be truly therapeutic. It was the one way she could process her story in new and profound ways, just by putting her paintbrush to paper.
And now Lindsay wants to share her experience of healing and transformation through art – and help youths develop strong, courageous hearts in the process.
Prior to the Bridge Collapse, Lindsay had long had a dream of working with young people in a setting outside of school, and even thought long and hard about opening a non-profit youth center. Her job with a Twin Cites-based people-serving agency enabled her to work with a variety of people, from children and adolescents to more vulnerable populations, but an idea to open a youth center kept creeping back into her mind.
It was the process of healing through art that led her take the giant leap of faith last year and begin publicly talking about – and acting upon – opening the youth center she had long dreamed about. She was able to make meaning of what had happened and grow through the experience, something that she does not take for granted, and she wanted to help others do the same.
So courageous heARTS was born.
Although courageous heARTS is an arts-based youth center, it emphasizes process over product, and expression over technique. They will offer after-school programs for middle and high school students, as well as offer some drop-in studio hours.
The mission of courageous heARTS is “to co-create experiences with young people by offering them a safe space, built with the intention to heal and empower– through expressive arts, community building and leadership development.”
Lindsay is very intentional about the mission. First, courageous heARTS is a Trauma Informed Organization. This means that staff, volunteers and the the board members are trained in trauma, how it comes about, how it manifests itself, and how to recover. Anyone who comes through the door could have experienced some kind of trauma but regardless of that, they will feel safe inside the doors.
Second, she has established a Youth Advisory Board – comprised of nine high school students from South and Roosevelt – who will determine what classes will be available in the fall and help develop the curriculum. They are considering options such as visual arts, performing arts, language arts, textile arts and media arts.
Art was instrumental in helping Walz manage the PTSD she developed as a result of the Collapse, and inspired her guiding philosophy for courageous heARTS: that healing requires courage, not a diagnosis, and that creating art in a space free from judgment can open new worlds of possibility.
Courageous heARTS will hold its Grand Opening on Thursday, August 1 (the six-year anniversary of the Bridge Collapse) with a special screening of the 2013 Academy Award-winning documentary, Inocente, at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis. Inocente follows the story of a homeless and undocumented Latino youth, and highlights the transformative power of art.
The event starts at 5:00 and will be followed by a panel discussion, including the film’s subject, Inocente Izucar. All proceeds from the event will provide programming support to courageous heARTS.
And then on the morning of Friday, August 2, Inocente Izucar will be painting at the courageous heARTS studio, located at 4164 Cedar Ave S., and you are invited to join in.
Lindsay’s journey to this point was not easy and certainly not meaningless. She says above it all, she wants to raise awareness about trauma and normalize it. courageous heARTS is a giant step in that direction.
The Principles of Process – Guiding Principles for courageous heARTS:
Art is about a story, not a skill.
Your story matters.
Dig deep. Be courageous.
Imagination leads to possibilities.
There are no mistakes, just opportunities.
Feel from the heART and have fun.