TRACK: Using the Power of Art to Combat Child Abuse

The Three Rivers Art Center for Kids aims to engage children through the arts.

The Three Rivers Art Center for Kids aims to engage children through the arts.

Can artistic expression change the lives of children in Fort Wayne? Three Rivers Art Center for Kids (TRACK) is a new non-profit organization that is calling attention to the issue of child abuse through the arts.

TRACK founder Terry Doran has been involved with the arts and non-profits in Fort Wayne for over 30 years. As children, he and his brothers were both victims of mental and emotional abuse by their mother. Doran sat down for an interview recently after a TRACK benefit concert in remembrance of his brother Rick who died in 2000 after a subsequent and lingering battle with depression.

Terry Doran (right) and his brother Chris Doran (left) read a poem written by their late brother Rick at a benefit for TRACK.

Terry Doran (right) and his brother Chris Doran (left) read a poem written by their late brother Rick at a benefit for TRACK.

Since Rick’s passing, Doran took these experiences and focused them into a community dialogue about child abuse with a small group of volunteers, and founded TRACK in late 2012.

The dialogue continues next month, as Katherine Reddick will be discussing child welfare at the Allen County Public Library – Main Branch, Meeting Room A at 2 pm on Saturday, June 28. Reddick, an educator from Texas, received international exposure in 2013 after writing a “scathing” newspaper obituary with her brother about their abusive mother to shed light on the issue of child abuse.

Reddick will also be holding three workshops on foster care and challenges associated with it. The entire event will be free to attend.
“She really wants people to leave with a feeling that they can do something,” said Doran.

The dancers and choreographer from the Fort Wayne Dance Collective in "For the Children Dance," winner of the Philo T. Farnsworth award for Excellence in Children's Programming.

The dancers and choreographer from the Fort Wayne Dance Collective in “For the Children Dance,”
winner of the Philo T. Farnsworth award for Excellence in Children’s Programming.

Funded by a Cable Fund Access Board grant, outreach events like this have been the focus of the organization since its founding. Past outreach includes the benefit concert for Rick, two public awareness programs with Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne and an award-winning dance performance on the issue of child abuse by the Fort Wayne Dance Collective.

“The shows have been successful in terms of quality,” said Doran.

The organization has had issues with a tight budget and no permanent space, which has limited its ability to work directly with children. Recently, Byron Health Center, a senior care facility north of Fort Wayne, reached out to Doran and offered use of its recreation center, free of charge, to do classes, events, and activities for kids.

Randi Shepherd and her daughter Destiny at the TRACK mural painting. Destiny was severely shaken as a  baby and now, at age 8, suffers brain damage. Shepherd is working to get pass "Destiny's Law" in Ohio for tougher sentences for chlld abusers.

Randi Shepherd and her daughter Destiny at a TRACK mural painting. Destiny was severely shaken as a baby and now, at age 8, suffers brain damage. Shepherd is working to get passed “Destiny’s Law” in Ohio for tougher sentences for child abusers.

In the long term, TRACK would like to be downtown as part of the downtown revitalization efforts, but, getting started, Byron should serve its needs well.

“TRACK is not just for abused kids, it’s for all kids. I believe that you need to have healthy kids interacting with kids that have problems, and I think that will benefit both of them.”

TRACK wants to start up new classes for children and get people interested in volunteering in sharing any artistic or creative pursuits they may have.

The organization also needs people to handle numerous organizational needs, such as volunteer coordination, fundraising, grant-writing, marketing, transportation, outreach and recruitment of new children, legal assistance, and strategic planning.

If you are interested in getting involved with TRACK, please contact trackfortwayne@gmail.com and visit http://www.fresh-eyepromotions.com/TRACK/. Through its fiscal sponsor, Friends of the Third World, donations to TRACK are tax exempt.

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Tim Zink

Author: Tim Zink

Director-at-Large of Communications for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana. Adviser to current Living Fort Wayne leadership team. Contributor to Living Fort Wayne since April 2014.

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