Using art to heal from the trauma of Hurricane Michael

Florida students use art therapy to cope with trauma from Hurricane Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Hurricane Michael’s fierce winds and devastation are imprinted on the minds of many local young people.

This is a loop that shows the incredible size and power of Hurricane Michael.

Hurricane Michael loop SOURCE: Radarscope

Students at Bay High School are using art as an outlet to express their feelings about Hurricane Michael.

“Our front door wanted to bust open so that’s when I decided just to lean against the door for, like, nearly two hours,” said Bay High School Senior Eduardo Vasquez.

Vasquez was in his Panama City home with his family during the storm, and it's a day he never wants to relive.

"It was one of the worst experiences I ever had," said Vasquez.

But Friday during lunch hour at Bay High School, Vasquez and other students who wanted to pick up a paintbrush had an outlet to help put those traumatic memories in the past.

"The kids are painting from the way they remember the trees the day before Hurricane Michael," said Bay High's Student Government Association Sponsor Megan Todd.

"It's just a very clever and therapeutic way of being able to, like, use our ideas and our memories of the city before," said Bay High Senior Ana Barragan.

Vasquez says he even found beauty after the storm, "I was walking down the street, down Lisenby Avenue and 23rd Street just, like, looking at all the damage and then you just saw, from one side you saw a darkness and then you saw the light, it looked so beautiful."

Students are creating all different types of pieces, which will be displayed on a mural and shown throughout the school.

"This is kind of what a lot of it is about. Like the trees, things that just kinda were gone and I think that's what this whole mural is about," said Bay High School Senior Ethan Ospinal.

It's also about shining a light on mental health after the storm. Teachers and staff want to let students know if they're struggling, help is available. Paint strokes on paper are just one way to get that.

The mural will be on display October 10.

Copyright 2019 WBRC. All rights reserved.