Giving impoverished children around the world the tools to emerge from the cycle of poverty through creative empowerment
There was never a time when she did not envision herself being an artist. Enduring traumatic events in high school, Jennie Lobato found comfort and healing through her artwork. It was her outlet, her coping mechanism to deal with her pain. Jennie’s creative escape landed her a full scholarship at the prestigious Maryland Institute, College of Art, and a General Fine Arts degree with a prominent job lined up for when she graduated. Jennie was living comfortably in Atlanta as a successful graphic designer for high profile clients when a volunteer opportunity changed her life. In 2008, she spent three weeks painting three murals in Cartago, Costa Rica and it was during this time of being completely immersed in art and surrounded by impoverished children that drawchange was born. Dedicated to not being negatively influenced by feedback, Jennie told no one as she took a full year to develop the organization down to the branding, advertising and marketing. Her mission was to encourage children to use art as a way to transcend from their current circumstances and empower them to make their dreams a reality with creativity. Through both scientific research and personal testimonials, she understood that if a child could imagine a better life and use art as a healthy outlet to escape or cope with troubles they face day to day, they can successfully emerge from the cycle and heal. Seven years later, her vision has reached multiple shelters in Atlanta, Costa Rica and Ethiopia. Jennie's devotion to aid global change through drawchange is incredibly inspiring and thousands of children now have the tools to visualize their dreams through art therapy-based programming.
The outcome of her program speaks for itself as the success stories are endless. Having the opportunity to first-hand experience how drawchange has made an impact in the shelters and internationally, I am still in awe. Having the opportunity to first-hand experience the ceaseless dedication and limitless compassion Jennie demonstrates every day towards these children is nothing short of inspirational. I have watched as Jennie has positively influenced these children to express their emotion through creativity and seen the difference the program has made on them from week to week. For children who have endured more trauma than most adults will in their lifetimes, drawchange has empowered them to survive their struggles and turn their experiences into something beautiful. Jennie envisioned that a child who is able to create and reach into the depths of their imagination is able to conceptualize emotion and heal their internal wounds. There are infinite therapeutic aspects of art, and she has turned a restorative creative experience into a universal language that defies age, race, gender and borders. Jennie has empowered children to have a voice through art to overcome obstacles and drawchange will continue to unite communities, inspire creativity and influence positive change.