Paula Smith is an inspiring role model for fellow students at the Classen School for Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City. At only seventeen, she has already demonstrated her leadership qualities, as can be seen since she has been awarded the title of Miss Bricktown’s Outstanding Teen.
Paula is putting her reign to good use by spreading the word about the many merits of art therapy and support for the arts. Her ambitious efforts stem from a tragic experience that changed her life and the impact art had on helping her through such a troubled time.
Only a little over a year ago, Paula’s best friend, Dajia Brown, was killed in a highway incident. Dajia and a friend were attempting to push their broken down van off of the highway when another vehicle crashed into the girls, killing them both. Paula was absolutely devastated and closed herself off from others, reeling from the loss of her friend. However, as time went by, she was able to talk about her feelings and realize how precious life was.
Paula also came to the realization that art and her drawings became an outlet of expression, a way that she could find peace and work through the pain and grief. Since that time, she has set out on a mission to show fellow teens how art can be a solution to their problems as well.
Paula is now visiting schools throughout Oklahoma, sharing the way that art has helped her to work through a difficult time in life. She wants students to know that they can always turn to artwork when it is too hard to talk about a problem. She notes that art really is a way to express any kind of emotion.
A canvas can be a good listener when it is too hard to find the words with people. Paula also wants others to try and find the positive around them as they turn to art. As she journeys to each school and shares her message, students band together with Paula to create a banner that expresses hope, something the teen wants every student to find.