It was too early on Friday morning for students to be inside the Coral Springs Museum of Art but board-certified music therapist, Bree Gordon was already prepared for them. She was strumming on her guitar in the corner - surrounded by windows, and pillows and blankets.
"Talk, grab a snack, sing, make art …. Whatever it is, the pressure's off," she said.
The museum has been a safe space for students - and the community at large - to come for art therapy since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 students and faculty dead last year. However, the museum's Healing with Art program expanded its hours this week in response to two teenagers who died by apparent suicide coinciding with no school during Broward County Schools Spring Break.
All week long people have been coming in and out to paint, sing, and be around art and music therapists. And that will still continue at the museum after spring break ends.
Gordon works with students providing music therapy for SHINE M.S.D., a foundation created after the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting to help the community heal through music and art. Gordon, who also works for Creative Arts Therapies of the Palm Beaches, partnered with the Coral Springs Museum of Art and encouraged her Camp Shine summer camp students to come hang out.
"Out of the comfort and out of that relationship may come a really important conversation," Gordon said.
She's already working on upcoming music therapy summer camps.
On the other side of the museum is a mat on the floor. Halves of hearts with messages lay next to cans of paint.
"We have people working on hearts with paint on vinyl," Raquel Farrell-Kirk, said. She's an art therapist working with the museum.
"That will become part of a larger wall hanging...Literally reconnecting these broken hearts," she said.
Friday may mark the end of Broward County Schools' Spring Break, but the art therapy group for students and teens will continue to meet at the museum every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The art therapy group for educators meets every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
"None of these services and programs are going away any time soon," Farrell-Kirk said.