A paper mache plunger may be an odd thing to see at an art show. However, for Camden, it's not odd at all. (And, for those of us who know Camden, it's as inspirational as the Mona Lisa!)
All this week at Cunningham we have been enjoying the Spring Art Show where various works of art are on display, made by students from Gerber School and Circle Academy. And, yes, among the pastel colored chalk pictures, ceramic bowls, and nature paintings sits a black paper mache plunger.
When Camden came to Cunningham at age 9, his anger often led to physical outbursts ending with nearby items broken in his room or unit. Even though Camden is now 12 years old, cognitively, he functions more like a 5 year old due to the years of trauma and abuse he suffered before coming to Cunningham. After one of his outbursts, the maintenance staff was called to repair the damage. Camden, often inquisitive, watched and wondered what they were doing. Staff explained that maintenance had to fix the damage that his outburst had caused.
After some thought, Camden wanted to apologize for his actions. A simple apology to our maintenance staff grew into a conversation, which has evolved into a mentoring relationship with our maintenance team. Camden is beginning to trust.
And, instead of breaking things, Camden now has a desire to "fix" things. He even asked for a pair of Carhartt coveralls for Christmas so he could look the part. On a nice day, you might spot him with his red wagon picking up sticks, or using his own toy tools and toy lawnmower.
When Camden expressed interest in wanting to make a plunger for the art show, Miss Evelyne, art teacher at Gerber, embraced the idea! Camden helped tape the main pieces together and then applied strips of plaster craft to the sculpture. Once dried, he painted it black.
The plunger represents more than just art. It represents Cunningham staff, both Miss Evelyne and our maintenance staff, who see the child that Camden is working to become. The plunger represents Camden's healing. Even a plunger can represent that hope begins here.
*All of our stories are true, but names and images of our children have been changed to protect their privacy.