Arts-Kids was founded in 1999 at two schools in Park City, Utah by Pat Drewry Sanger, an Advanced Practice Psychiatric-Mental Health Registered Nurse and Child/Adolescent Specialist.

The inspiration for the program came from her early work in Norfolk, Virginia. She noticed that children growing up in tough inner city environments began to become hardened and emotionally shut down by age nine or ten. Parents were often too burned-out from their efforts to survive. They had no energy to support their children on an emotional level.

She transferred that learning to develop an initial program, using the expressive arts and group techniques to create a joyful environment for self-expression. The program grew over the years to help children cope with the inevitable social problems kids encounter at school – teasing, bullying, feelings of low self esteem – and to help students with behavioral challenges such as ADHD, autism and Asperger’s.

By 2003 Arts-Kids and Arts-Teens groups had expanded to all ten Summit County elementary and middle schools. In 2008 Arts-Kids expanded its model to the Ute Indian Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northern Utah where students are challenged by substance abuse, suicide, gangs and high dropout rate.