Jill Biden joined her daughter Ashley for a stop in Greenville this weekend to promote a local Delaware charity.
The mother-daughter duo spoke to the philanthropic group Great Dames about their travels across the globe and the opportunities they have had to both inspire and be inspired by others.
Vice President Joe Biden’s wife shared a story about the family’s trip to Kenya, Africa where they visited Kibera, one of the worst slums in the word. There they met a young mother who ran a mentoring group for women of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
“This Kibera, this slum, was miles and miles of huts,” explained Biden. “It was something that is hard to imagine. But she came in and she was so positive. She had this group of young girls that she was talking to, she educated them and she tried to keep them safe.”
Biden called the experience “incredible” and said she stayed in touch with the woman after the trip.
“I wrote to her several times after that visit. Actually, I think she made a pretty strong impression on me too,” said Biden.
Money from the event ticket sales went to Young at Art, a program developed by Ashley Biden to help at risk youth.
“In 2010, I was working in the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families as a development and education liaison and the artwork that the students working in level five and level four detention facilities, the artwork created by the students were amazing,” said Ashley.
Ashley partnered with Delaware philanthropist Joni Silverstein, to create the program which incorporates art therapy into educational programs for adjudicated delinquent youth.
“It’s taking artwork that’s created at the facilities, taking it to community events and events like these and selling the artwork and the proceeds go to the individual artists and half goes back into the program,” explained Ashley.
Students also get paid to work at art shows and learn about money management.
“We engage youth in conversation, we talk about ownership and entrepreneurship, we talk about their goals and dreams in life, the importance of education and they get to be creative and make art as well,” explained Chandra Pitts, executive director of One Village Alliance, the managing agency for the Young at Art program.
One artist who has benefited from the program is 16-year-old Ta’Shauen.
“I learned to be able to express my feelings and my emotions on paper instead of speaking them,” said Ta’Shauen. “It’s better to express them on paper because you can create something beautiful.”
She added that the program has made her feel better “mentally, emotionally and physically.”
An online art gallery can be found on the Young at Art website, which is also maintained by students.