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Martial artist helped art liberate orphansPosted on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 7:28 am
by IDMA Editor
A young woman took a trip that changed her life - and the lives of thousands of children as well.
Rebecca Neuenswander Welsh is nothing, if not determined. At age 14, the movie "The Karate Kid" prompted the Kansas City girl to take up martial arts. By age 20, she was the world champion in Tae Kwon Do.
A former model, she also played an underground prizefighter in the film "Fight Night." Her martial arts competitions took her around the world. In 2002, Rebecca went on a mission trip to Honduras. It was there her life took an unexpected turn.
Rebecca Welsh, a woman from Kansas City who formed the HALO foundation, an organization that uses art therapy to help orphaned children.
"I encountered a girl named Daisy, she was living on the streets, she's six years old, she was begging on the streets for water," Rebecca said. "And I'm thinking how do I live a six-hour flight from here my whole life and I have no idea this is going on?"
Back home, Rebecca shared Daisy's story with kids in America. They were so moved they started fundraising - $5,000 went to orphans in Mexico. Soon, Rebecca began to receive artwork from them as a thank you.
"We had all this artwork and we decided to do an art auction," she said. "It just went over so well, because you sell a piece with a child's story and it's so powerful for people to be able to connect to that.
In 2005, Rebecca formed the charity - helping art liberate orphans - or HALO.
"We would do art therapy with the kids and it just helped them communicate better and raise their self esteem," Rebecca said. The organization currently supports 11 orphanages around the world.
HALO also serves more than 1,000 underprivileged kids at educational centers in Kansas City and Denver. Last year, Rebecca's charity raised more than $300,000 to support the kids.
"It's about reaching out and really wanting to make a difference," she said. "Everybody wants to do something they just have to figure out how to do it."
Rebecca found that by using her own strength she was able to help build a strong life for others.