A Brush of Hope in Lebanon is a nonprofit organization designed to help young girls cope with any situation in their lives through artwork. Owner and founder Aimee Lowrance started it in July 2013 to encourage girls to be self-confident, to gain leadership skills and to promote positive attitudes about life. A support group surrounds the girls where they feel loved and accepted.

Q When did you start A Brush of Hope, and what inspired you to start it?

A My daughter’s best friend had broken her back in a gymnastics accident. She was wearing a back brace and she couldn’t do anything, so we did art together. That was very comforting and a way for her to get her head around her injury. That’s where I got the inspiration to do art to help young girls cope with different things they have going on in their lives.

Q Why do you think this program is important?

A When you belong to a group that genuinely cares about you, that changes your outlook on life and it helps you with decision-making. For the girls, that sense of belonging and being a part of a cohesive group—when they know they have this safety net of a group of friends who love them no matter what—helps them get through some of the harder things they deal with.

Q How does art inspire you? Is it emotionally or creatively?

A Art inspires me on a lot of different levels. There are some pieces of art that I’ve looked at that actually bring tears to my eyes. I think art is very comforting and calming, and art is a way to express myself and it’s my own creation. You can unleash a lot of creativity and let yourself go with it wherever the piece takes you.

Q What are some of the challenges girls face in their lives, and how does the program help prepare them?

A One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen with all the girls is labeling. If there are girls that have been diagnosed with ADHD, they’re labeled as such and they’re expected to act a certain way. For them to step into a group where those labels just fall away from them and they can just be who they are, just be a kid, it makes a difference. It helps them to feel confident and to feel loved, definitely.

Q What types of classes are offered? Are they only for girls?

A Right now we have 86 children enrolled. We have five weekly classes offered; four of those are girls, and one class is for boys. We also have a monthly Mini Brushes group, which are boys and girls ages 2 to 6. One of my favorite groups, the second Sunday of every month, is the Battling Bullies group for girls. We meet with a pediatric counselor, and we learn ways to handle being bullied.

Q What are the other activities offered beside art?

A We try to do a monthly workshop in the studio that is something fun but relevant to the girls. We’ve done Yoga, facials and card making. Now that we have this new space, we offer it to different groups that might want to rent it out: Girl Scout groups, women who scrapbook. The money from that goes toward our program to offset expenses. With the exception of Battling Bullies and Mini Brushes, all of our programs are free to the children who participate. The Battling Bullies and Mini Brushes cost $5.

Q What are some memorable moments from the classes?

A I can think of moments when things were very intense and somebody used humor to diffuse the situation. There was one girl in one of the groups who was getting upset with another girl. In the middle of this whole intense situation a third girl said, “I have webbed feet. Does anybody want to see them?” She took off her shoes and socks and showed us her feet. It was wonderful because we were talking about how we are all made different.

Q What are the future plans for A Brush of Hope?

A The entire experience of A Brush of Hope, since it began in July, has been a huge growing process for the girls, the board members and myself. We would like to keep it going, and we really feel in our hearts that what we do is what we are called to do in this world to make the future better for young girls and for the boys who come to the group.