Partnership Spotlight: Fairfax Learning Center


For students at Fairfax Learning Center, an alternative high school in Kansas City, Kan., coming to HALO’s Learning Center to do an art project is much more than just earning half a credit toward graduation. One of HALO’s goals is to help vulnerable children heal from their past through therapeutic art, and our partnership with Fairfax strengthens our mission to provide housing, healing, and education to at-risk and homeless children.

“For our students, there’s a lot of things that have happened in their life that has caused them to not be successful in regular high school, and art is a great way for them to express their emotions,” said Craig Willemsen, lead counselor at Fairfax. Willemsen brings the students to HALO’s Learning Center twice a month where they spend two hours each time working on an art project and talking about the “life skill” of the month, such as self-discipline, compassion and empathy.

“Sometimes they’ll get an art project based on a theme that we do where they can actually express those emotions that maybe they can’t verbally talk about, but they can draw a picture about,” Willemsen said.

HALO has been partnering with Fairfax since 2016. Coming to the Learning Center helps the students reenergize by being in a different environment, talking with new people and gaining new perspectives. Willemsen says getting out of the building and doing something different helps the students be more productive and enhances the student/teacher relationship because it creates a way for them to talk about the art project and what it means to the student, whether it’s positive or negative.

One thing Willemsen really likes about partnering with HALO is its consistency. Every single month, on the same days and at the same times, the students know they can count on HALO. And in many at-risk children’s lives, structure and consistency is hard to come by. HALO is proud to partner with Fairfax and help its students heal from their past and work toward their future.

HALO is always looking to partner with local organizations in the Kansas City area who are passionate about helping at-risk youth. If you’re interested in partnering with us, please email Carly Manijak at [email protected].

If you believe in our mission to provide art education and healing to at-risk youth, please donate here.