From Tragedy to Inspiration – A gift from the children of Sandy Hook

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed the lives of twenty children and six teachers and administrators. From that tragedy the Embrace Hope-Sandy Hook Equine Assisted Therapy Foundation was formed. The local nonprofit graciously donated a series of inspirational canvas photos to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children—New York’s premier facility committed to improving the health and quality of life for children and families with special needs. The photos were taken by the children in the Embrace Hope program as a part of a recent photography workshop called “It’s a Beautiful World.”

Embrace Hope uses equine therapy to help children who are suffering from grief, anxiety, depression or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. During the workshop the children worked with four professional photographers — Debra Marafiote, Jens Haulund, Darrel Harrington and Danielle Amato — who gave them tips on taking an interesting photo. The children were told to capture beauty or inspiration in their world as they saw it. The stunning photos were then enlarged and printed on canvases, and were placed on display in the C.H. Booth Library, in Newtown.

Now some of these photos will grace the walls of St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, helping to uplift the young patients who are all facing complex medical issues.
“Art plays a vital role in the healing process here at St. Mary’s,” said Dr. Edwin Simpser, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children. “Children with medical complexity who are exposed to the arts are able to free their imaginations from the constraints imposed by physical limitations.”