Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Students'€™ Hearts Beat With Haitian Kids

March 14th, 2011

Social Work graduate students Tuyl Fletchinger, left, and Jordan Matevich, of HeARTS With Haiti, make drums from paper plates, small rocks and art supplies. HeARTS With Haiti is a project being developed by faculty, staff and students at the Tulane School of Social Work, along with Haitian friends and artists, which uses arts-based techniques for helping children in Haiti heal from earthquake trauma. (Photo by Sabree Hill)

By Joseph Halm

Less than a month after the 2010 Haitian earthquake, two Tulane students listened intently as a pair of earthquake survivors told their story and implored the New Orleans community to help in any way it could. They answered the call with their professional project.

Before their December 2010 graduation from the School of Social Work, Tuyl Fletchinger and Jordan Matevich created a culturally specific, arts-based HeARTs With Haiti curriculum to help Haitian children express and process the trauma they experienced and are still experiencing.

‘€œWe were so touched when Paul and Christine (Fowler) told us their story that we knew we had to do something to help,‘€ Fletchinger says. ‘€œThey knew we wanted to help the children of Haiti because they‘€™re the ones who‘€™ll continue the country‘€™s growth in the future.‘€

The duo also held a ‘€œRaRa for Haiti‘€ awareness walk in May 2010 to raise funds to aid the country, and then they went to work on creating their kits. Modeling their efforts off the Journey of Hope curriculum created in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, they created self-contained arts kits that teachers can use to administer the curriculum to an entire class.

Designed for elementary children, the kits have supplies for painting and drawing, and materials for making drums for a drum circle. Matevich says the kits will need to be modified and added to, and she hopes a new group of students will take on that challenge for their professional project.

‘€œThe RaRa was a big learning experience,‘€ Matevich says. ‘€œFundraising is such a necessary part of creating these kits. This entire project was a great learning experience for the kind of work that we want to do in the future.‘€
Fletchinger and Matevich are presenting their work and research data during the Louisiana National Association of Social Workers annual conference this month.

Joseph Halm is marketing/communications coordinator for the Tulane School of Social Work.
Reported in the Tulane New Wave