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Van Go releases short film showing program’s transformative impact on youth

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In a new short film, “The Beauty Within,” graduates of Van Go testify to the support and healing they found as young artists in the program.

The short film, directed by Marc Havener, features the stories of five graduates of the arts-based nonprofit program: Gabby, Jude, Maya, Jafiya and Jordan. They share the life challenges they overcame while working with Van Go.

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During the film, the featured graduates candidly share hardships they endured while navigating their childhoods, such as depression and feeling alone. They also discuss being able to heal, express their creativity and build lasting relationships while being a part of Van Go, which helped shape them into the adults they are today.

“We are incredibly proud of each of them and grateful for their help in sharing what happens in the place our youth affectionately call ‘home’ … beyond the art we see and the jobs they do,” Van Go’s website said.

The full short film — approximately six minutes long — can be viewed at this link.

Van Go is an art program based out of East Lawrence that has been serving the Lawrence-Douglas County area for 25 years now. Young people between the ages of 14 and 24 are employed with the program while being able to learn in the community and mold their crafts.

The nonprofit organization has centered its 2022 annual appeal to donors around the short film. Those interested in supporting Van Go to “to ensure there are many more of these stories,” the website said, can donate at this link

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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