Arts Therapy for Children

Kelly  Young

Class of 2020 • Severna Park, Maryland
With a double major in human development and theatre, and a minor in psychology, Kelly Young ’20 is ready to tackle her passions after graduation—making drama or creative arts therapy more accessible for children.


The summer after her sophomore year, Kelly interned with the Therapeutic Nursery Program at the Lourie Center for Children’s Social & Emotional Wellness in Rockville, Maryland. In the classroom, she helped model and teach proper emotional skills for a vulnerable population of children, while they gained new skills for tackling their various emotional and behavioral disorders. With minimal training, Kelly’s experience was entirely hands-on, allowing her to build relationships with the kids and learn quickly on the job.

After this first internship, she recognized that she could integrate her excitement for education, psychology, and theatre into her post-graduation plans through theatre and arts therapy for children. 

Continuing on the human development track, she spent her junior year interning in an arts classroom at Chestertown’s Radcliffe Creek School— shadowing a class of 5-year-olds and another of 5th- and 6th-graders. 

When senior year hit, Kelly had a reprieve from the classroom, as she took the director’s seat for the production of Small Mouth Sounds, her Senior Capstone Experience (SCE) for the Department of Theatre & Dance. Chronicling the journey of six adults on a silent retreat, the mostly silent performance tracks the growth and healing that humans are capable of when they come together after a trauma.

“In a world full of suffering and scary things, human connection is what allows us to truly heal,'' remarks Kelly.

Upon crossing the finish line of her theatre thesis, Kelly was just toeing the starting line of the next—her human development SCE. Following research with local community theaters, she plans to incorporate the healing aspects of theater into their daily programs. 

Whether she’s designing props, building a set, acting, or directing, Kelly knows she has a home in the drama department at WC. From her very first acting class to her senior capstone, she continues to tell stories that aren’t usually heard, understand the unique character process, and be a part of powerful productions.

Kelly begins graduate school in Fall 2021 at Lesley University, where she will be pursuing a masters in Drama Therapy.

“I am very passionate about finding a way to make drama and creative arts therapy accessible to more kids,” she says, “I don’t know exactly what that will look like yet, but I’ll find out.”

Kelly's Four Year Plan

Year 1

Favorite ClassIntroduction to Acting

It was her first class on her very first day at Washington College, but thanks to the captivating Professor Polly Sommerfeld, it was one that Kelly Young will never forget. Working their way through different levels of acting, Young and classmates from all departments had a blast every class, while gaining a broad depth of understanding in drama. “I figured I’d probably be a theatre major,'' she recalls, “but this class really made it click for me.”

Year 2

Learning by Doing Internship at The Lourie Center for Children’s Social and Emotional Wellness

After a scant six hours of training, ready or not, Kelly was headed for a summer in the Therapeutic Nursery Program at the Lourie Center in Rockville. In the classroom, she worked with a vulnerable population of children, helping them develop proper emotional and social skills through structured play time and various projects. Enveloped in an ideal, hands-on learning environment, she built relationships with the kids while developing a better understanding of various emotional and behavioral disorders.

Year 3

Most Memorable Experience Mid-Shore Pride with EROS

Last spring, EROS (Encouraging Respect of Sexuality) had the opportunity to represent Washington College at the Eastern Shore’s first ever PRIDE event - Midshore PRIDE. Young, along with other members of EROS, hosted a face-painting table at the festival. “Seeing [the college, Chestertown, and neighboring communities] come together in the name of love and connection was a humbling experience,” 

Year 4

Looking Forward To Small Mouth Sounds, a Directing Senior Capstone Experience

It’s been over a year since she made her initial thesis proposal to the theatre department, but Kelly was beyond ready to see her SCE come to fruition in the limelight. From its earliest conception to weeks of rehearsals, Small Mouth Sounds, a primarily silent play surrounding mental health and human connection, was a terrifying, yet incredible challenge for her to tackle in her senior year.