On January 9, 2016 Just For The Smiles had its first event at Maryvale. We collaborated with OffShoot Comics to bring the residents of the foster care a unique opportunity to explore their imaginations and use their creativity to develop their ideal superheroes. As the week began, we were informed that their were about 20 girls that wanted to participate in the event, but in the end we had over 30 girls attend. We had numerous stations set up where each one would have a comic book artist there to assist these girls with getting their stories down on paper. We had numerous volunteers and artists from from Just For The Smiles and Off Shoot Comics in attendance and throughout the 3 1/2 hour event, they were able to touch the lives of these 30 wonderfully talented girls.
During the event, every single child was happy to be there and were coming up with new ways to explore their imaginations. With the help of the artists and volunteers, some of these kids were able to do something that they've never done before; use their life experiences and implement their ideas into a story to teach others how to overcome difficult times and escape their realities. A few of these girls even presented their creations in front of everybody and as they were talking, some of the staff of Maryvale were becoming emotional seeing their girls overcome their fears of speaking in front of others.
Throughout the program over 20 girls came up to me, David Clarke (Co-Owner of OffShoot Comics) and our volunteers to express their feelings about our event and asked us to come back as quickly as possible. These girls want to continue telling their story and they can rest assure that we will be back again. Speaking with the activities coordinator, Rose White, we will be aiming to return in March of this year.
We were able to see all 30 girls smiling throughout the whole event and while most of these children have had a difficult life so far, we were able to shed a little bit of light into their darkness and make their day brighter.