Lara Kalaf is a PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology at UQAM in Montreal, Canada. She has been providing individual and group therapy for over four years. Her thesis is inspired by her previous experience exploring how expressive art therapies enhanced resilience to war-trauma in Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This led her to develop the Art4lives initiative and a unique resilience-building workshop that uses art to empower participants.
She founded the initiative with the aim to provide support for children affected by war around the world. In the summer of 2016, Art4lives conducted the first workshop in a public school in Mount Lebanon with nine Syrian children refugees, aged 12 to 16, attending afternoon classes at the school. The eleven day workshop included sessions on interactive introductions, building a safe environment, sharing personal stories on coping with difficulties, and culminated in the creation of an animated movie inspired by the childrens’ stories of
Art4Lives is an initiative that is committed to improving the effectiveness of resilience building interventions for war-affected youth. By disseminating knowledge backed by scientific field research, it provides evidence based consultations to relevant organisations. It also creates effective and culturally appropriate workshops that utilise art in a way that improves the well being of youth while enhancing their resiliency to war-trauma.