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Healing through art and writing

BCHS class decorates journals for victims of domestic violence

Bethlehem High School students are turning journals into pieces of art in Diane Segal’s Fashion and Design 101 course. The journals will be donated to Unity House.

Bethlehem High School students are turning journals into pieces of art in Diane Segal’s Fashion and Design 101 course. The journals will be donated to Unity House.

For those who feel embarrassed sharing their troubles with another person, a journal or diary can be a cathartic lifeline, and a group of Bethlehem High School students are using that idea to help victims of domestic violence begin a new chapter of their lives.

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Diane Cameron Pascone, Director of Development for Unity House, speaks about the signs of domestic violence to Bethlehem High School art students.

A new collaboration by art instructor Diane Segal and Unity House Director of Development Diane Cameron Pascone is aiming to teach students about the warning signs of domestic violence, while allowing them to give back to woman in need.

“It’s meaningful for these woman to get these journals from these girls. They were young once too and had similar dreams and aspirations. I think this project will work to form a unique connection between everyone involved.”

  • Diane Cameron Pascone

“It’s been determined that those who journal are more likely to be connected to their emotions, and (it) helps develop problem-solving skills,” said Segal, who is doing the project for the first time in her Fashion and Design 101 course. “It helps to let go of negativity, focus on gratitude and work through difficult emotions and circumstances.”

Segal is a longtime friend of Pascone and often volunteers at Unity House, a Rensselaer County-based human services agency that assists victims of domestic violence, adults with mental illness and those living in poverty. Pascone said one of the first possessions woman receive when seeking assistance from the organization is a journal.

“It becomes very important to them because it is often one of the first things in a long time the women feel is entirely their own,” said Pascone. “A lot of times, these women go to the police or hospital and come to us with only the clothes on their back.”

The women of Unity House are encouraged to write in the journals on their own and are asked to use them during group writing exercises. Since Segal has used journaling for years as a medium for her artwork and often teaches different units on it in her classes, she felt a collaboration would be appropriate.

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