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Art, Therapy Help Boy Deal With Painful Past

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When Ezekiel works on origami, it’s hard to think of him as anything other than a patient and polite child.

But the 10-year-old boy was very different four years ago.

At that time, Ezekiel had just been adopted by Teresa Hassing and her husband, and was still hurting from his turbulent early childhood.

“He would literally throw things at us,” Hassing said. “He would throw chairs, he would throw things at teachers.”

He was a terror at school. On good days, he was written up. On bad days, he was thrown out of class.

“At least two or three times a week I was getting a phone call, where it serious enough that the principal was calling me,” Hassing said.

Ezekiel was also a danger at home. Once, he started a fire in his bedroom.

“That was a very, very scary time,” Hassing said.

Joel Hansen, who works with the Washburn Center for Children in Minneapolis, helped Ezekiel with his problems.

Washburn used visual therapy techniques to help Ezekiel deal with his emotions. And everybody at the center supported Ezekiel’s interest in art.

“When he first started drawing, everything…was in one color,” Hassing said. “Mostly, he chose the color black.”

With the help of art and therapy, the pain of being left by his birth mother subsided, and a different Ezekiel emerged.

“You can see the healing that’s happened in his art,” Hassing said. “There’s features on the faces of his people, often smiling.”

The workers at Washburn also taught Ezekiel breathing exercises to help him handle his ADHD.

“If you go back and read his file…you would not think that it was the same child,” Hassing said.

Now, Ezekiel is a calm and patient origami expert – one with a very thankful mother.

“It’s amazing.” she said. “I mean, Washburn is my friend.”

How is Ezekiel doing in school now?

Ezekiel’s mom just went to conferences, and the teacher’s only complaint is that it’s hard to get Ezekiel to stop reading when he really loves a book.

If you want to learn more about Washburn, visit wcco.com/washburn.

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