The art of handling at-risk kids

HALO’s Elle Benage at the upstairs HALO studio in the Common Ground building.

HALO’s Elle Benage at the upstairs HALO studio in the Common Ground building.

Elle Benage’s position with HALO Jefferson City allows her to combine her passion for art and her passion for kids.

As the program director of HALO’s Jefferson City Learning Center, she helps plan programs for at-risk youth in the Jefferson City area.

“We provide art therapy and future-focused programs for the kids there,” Benage said. “I see all of the different programs we put on at the different organizations we partner with.”

HALO Jefferson City partners with organizations such as the Jefferson City Academic Center, the Boys and Girls Club and the Salvation Army.

Benage is new to HALO’s Jefferson City Learning Center. She graduated from College of the Ozarks in 2010 with a studio art and graphic design degree. She lived in Washington, D.C. with her husband for a year, while working for an organization that did art therapy for at-risk kids.

“I loved it,” Benage said. “I loved the program. So, when we moved to Columbia in August and when I heard about the HALO Foundation, I got in contact with them.”

Benage said she always hoped she would find a job in art and her goal is to get her master’s degree in art therapy.

“I also want to help grow the programs here (Jefferson City Learning Center),” she said. “I want to grow them to reach more kids.”

In her free time, Benage likes to do artsy things, such as painting and drawing. She and her husband, a student at University of Missouri’s School of Medicine, just took in a shepherd puppy.

She said she has found a sense of community in the Mid-Missouri area and hopes that plays out in the work she does with HALO’s Jefferson City Learning Center.

“I hope to communicate with at-risk kids, helping them grow dreams and skills for the future,” she said.

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