LAS VEGAS (FOX5) – A Las Vegas Valley man is using painting to help kids and adults through mental illness in a program called Aurtism.
It’s a medical facility with licensed staff trained in art therapy.
"You paint what you feel. There's no right way. There's no wrong way,” said Aurtism co-founder, Ken Harrison. "It saved me so it was only right that I give back something that saved me to a city that is so great."
Harrison explained A-U-R-T-I-S-M is a mix of autism and art. The facility will be serving the Las Vegas autistic community as well as anyone struggling with mental health who could benefit from their art therapy.
Harrison said his love of art therapy actually started from a dark time in his life. At 6’9,” Harrison aspired of playing professional basketball but injured his back.
"After my injury in college, I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life after sports. I decided to go into a deep depression when I was younger. Luckily art pulled me out,” he said.
Harrison credits his art recovery to his Aurtism co-founder and artist, Courtney Haywood.
"I found a certain beauty in his art and I found it therapeutic after talking with him and being educated more about art,” said Harrison. “It was something I thought would really help me in my treatment."
Harrison called the idea a one stop shop for happiness.
"We provide the ultimate services for mental health. [Everything] from [therapy for] individuals blessed with the gift of autism or people suffering from depression,” said Harrison. “Painting. We have individual therapy. We actually have private rooms for people that don't want to be around anybody.”
Now the two men have founded their own facility and before even opening its doors, found support from thousands of people online.
A Facebook post from Harrison about the start of Aurtism has been shared more than 52,000 times.
"This was meant to happen because organically the universe just made it blossom. And to actually see it feels really good because we're here and the possibilities are endless,” said Haywood. "Anybody that's on the fence about it, I feel like it's like anything else in your life. Come try it and experience it."
Aurtism is in its soft opening phase until the end of October.
Local kids are invited to their free community event at 4880 East Bonanza Rd. Suite 9, Las Vegas, NV 891107 on Oct. 18 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Oct. 19 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to paint pumpkins.