Warrior Scar Jewelry
and Discussion Program Goals
Healing Phoenix Arts Program
“Art Can Be An Outlet For Trauma,
And Deliver You From It At the Same Time”
Warrior Scar Jewelry and Discussion Goals
The Healing Phoenix Arts is a dynamic program centering around providing a Post Traumatic Growth experience by introducing a new perspective for healing from a traumatic event. It allows group participants to open up to a unique experience opportunity.
During an initial group discussion, participants will be able to share their stories. Sharing will foster trust and relationships between attendees with similar traumatic experiences through guided discussion with Christopher Gage, a burn survivor, who will present his survivor’s journey through trauma, healing, and Post Traumatic Growth. Group members can see new possibilities when they realize they are strong survivors and their scars do not have to define them.
Through the Warrior Scar Jewelry activity of this program with Holly Gage, participants will be able to express themselves by making a precious Fine Silver jewelry keepsake. By replicating a healed scar from their traumatic experience, we combine art with discussion as a healing modality.
Creating art can be such a powerful part of traumatic recovery. It can become a time of making, and working out your inner thoughts and feelings without using words. The workshop activities include sharing, storytelling, and creating. Attendees will leave with a beautifully finished necklace or bracelet with a centerpiece of their design in pure silver. We offer new perspectives and ways to experience your Warrior Scars seen and unseen.
We help students recognize the growth they have made in their healing and toward their future. The Five areas of Post Traumatic Growth that group participants may experience are:
during group discussion
and creating jewelry.
the value of
seek it out.
art, and creativity.
the positive from your newfound strengths by reflecting on your present achievements.
up to new experiences as
a step toward ideas of healing and turning struggle into strength.
Who Do We Service
Our program is suitable for Burn Survivors who have gone through trauma and have been scarred physically and/or emotionally from their experience and seek to expand their perspective through growth and positive healing activities. We happily work with all ages 6 through adult, in age appropriate groups, with all levels of physical ability, with provisions made to accommodate everyone. There is no prior experience required, and all are welcome.
About Your Presenters
Christopher Gage is the Group Discussion Facilitator and Co-Founder of the Healing Phoenix Arts Program. Chris is a burn survivor whose recovery experience from his accident is the number one event that has driven him to his current line of work. He has also worked as a lapidarist, cutting and polishing gemstones. Prior to that, he worked for over 20 years in the culinary industry, including owning and operating a mobile food restaurant.
The explosion and fire he was in has completely reshaped Chris’ life for the better, in a positive way, the result of working through the process of Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). In psychology, Post Traumatic Growth is a concept describing positive psychological change experienced due to struggling with highly challenging, highly stressful life circumstances.
Chris and his wife Holly actively sought out and researched the relatively new psychological field of PTG two years into his rehabilitation. It immediately resonated with him because it helped explain what he had experienced on his own during his stay in the hospital and rehabilitation at home.
Chris is now enthusiastically sharing what he has learned from his certification as an Expert Companion from on-line coursework Understanding and Facilitating Post Traumatic Growth with Richard Tedeschi, Ph.D. Chris has stated, “There is a teaching component to post traumatic growth. I have a great need to give hope to those who have suffered trauma, stemming from the incredible care and support I received from hospital staff, family, and friends who aided in my recovery.”
Chris’ culinary arts career was beneficial during a post-accident volunteer opportunity at a youth burn camp in 2019. Chris co-developed a culinary activity program at Camp Susquehanna centered around four days of teaching the campers the intricacies of planning, preparing, and making a meal from start to finish.
Chris experienced how powerful art can be as an outlet for trauma when he used lapidary
as his personal therapy soon after his accident. He says, “Being able to sit behind the
machine with its noise and focus on nothing but the stone I was working on allowed
me to escape the constant replaying in my mind of my ordeal and its consequences.”
Chris sees The Healing Phoenix Arts Program and Warrior Scar Jewelry workshops as
an incredible opportunity to complete a statement he made two and a half weeks into
his hospital stay, “I need to do something with my life to give back to the burn community.”
Holly Gage is the creator and instructor of the Warrior Scar Jewelry workshops and co-founder of the Healing Phoenix Arts Program. Holly has been making jewelry for 42 years, published in over 75 publications, and received several awards for her jewelry designs. Holly has instructed students of all ages with
a soulful brand of creating during in-person workshops, interactive on-line classes, and retreats worldwide for almost 25 years.
Holly was motivated to make a difference for trauma survivors after her husband, Christopher and her son, Ryan, were critically burned in their mobile restaurant’s explosion. Their recovery was long and painful, and their post- traumatic experience differed significantly, both physically and emotionally. These separate healing paths demonstrated that no two trauma survivors travel the same recovery path needing very individual approaches to healing. Creating art is a compelling way to process those feelings.
Six months after their accident, Holly volunteered as an Activity Director at Camp Susquehanna, a four-day summer camp for burn survivors ages 6 to 16. She presented the Warrior Scar Jewelry project where campers make keepsake jewelry replicating their scars, keeping their varying abilities in mind. “The paradigm shift from hiding their scars to honoring and sharing them as they became the centerpiece of their jewelry was truly exhilarating to see,” says Holly. She is now peer trained to support burn survivors and their families through the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors’ SOAR program.
Christopher’s Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) was life-changing, and both he and Holly were intrigued by his dramatic transformation and positive attitude that he came by naturally. All too often,
the negative aspects of PTSD are of predominant focus, so when the Gage's learned of a
lesser-known concentration of psychology, Post Traumatic Growth, they became
driven to make this teachable skill set available to as many as possible during the
appropriate stages of recovery. Hence, both Chris and Holly became certified peer
supporters by the Post Traumatic Growth program from the Boulder Crest Foundation.
Copies of both Child Abuse Search and Criminal History Search will be provided upon request.
Peer Group Discussion
At the commencement of each program series, group facilitator Christopher Gage will engage the participants in a group discussion. Group discussion allows people suffering from various challenges to seek help in the company of others they can relate to. Christopher, a burn survivor himself, will begin the discussion by talking about his real-life experience as a burn survivor as it relates to the makeup of the attendees within the context of Post Traumatic Growth.
Open and honest discussion among members of an empathetic group will allow attendees to feel more comfortable telling their stories and realizing personal growth they have achieved from their experience – ultimately translating that experience into a beautiful piece of jewelry.
Through group talk, participants will realize the value of having a network of supportive relationships, being open to accepting them, and learning how to seek them out. A sound support system includes a variety of types of individuals and is not just limited to family members.
In preparation for the activity portion of the program (Jewelry creation), we will discuss how powerful art can be as an outlet for trauma by expressing oneself through creativity and making aware that growth can happen when one opens oneself up to new experiences and possibilities.
Five essential guidelines that will be carefully adhered to during the group discussion portion of the Healing Phoenix Arts Program are:
The group setting will be calm and safe. Many people, particularly those with social or self-esteem issues, will shut down when confronted with antagonizing behavior, making the group less than optimal.
Make the group fun. With children, games and activities can help break the ice to begin addressing the group’s challenges. It can be as simple as coffee and doughnuts for adults before discussion.
Participant’s privacy. It is with the understanding that no personal or private information is owed to the group. Participants will never be required to divulge any particular piece of information at any time. Although ultimately one makes oneself vulnerable by opening up, avoiding a sense of vulnerability and obligation is needed to help resolve challenges. The group facilitator (Christopher) will actively protect participants from this.
Encourage, but do not force participation. It is essential to realize that by choosing to attend this program, a person has already taken the first step to help themselves face their challenges head-on.
Be straightforward and direct. The group facilitator (Christopher) will be open and straightforward about the group’s purpose: what it intends to do, how, and what challenges we hope to help others in attendance overcome.* This will not come across to make any one individual feel singled out. One of the crucial aspects of group discussion is that the participants who come together feel they are part of an empathetic circle.
*In our past programs, we have experienced several examples of participants redefining how they see their scars – a fundamental change happens – when observing their beautiful piece of jewelry side-by-side with their injury.
Please contact Christopher Gage at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Warrior Scar Jewelry Workshops
6-hour On-location Warrior Scar Jewelry Workshop with Christopher and Holly Gage includes:
5 to 15 attendees.
1/2 to 1 hour Peer group discussion depending on group size.
Expert jewelry instruction.
All workshop tools and kits are included at no cost to the attendee
(consumable items such as metals,
chains, sanding paper, etc.) are provided by collective
donation efforts of the leaders and facility.
Culminating group discussion.
1/2 hour lunch break. (Bring your own lunch)
Contact: Holly Gage for more details: email@example.com
6-hour On-line Warrior Scar Jewelry Workshop with Christopher and Holly Gage includes:
1/2 hour Peer group discussion first, session.
15 minute discussion to start next 5 sessions.
Expert jewelry instruction.
Access to recorded session.
All workshop tools and kits are included at no cost
to the attendee (consumable items such as metals,
chains, sanding paper, etc.) are provided by collective
donation efforts of the leaders and facility.
(3) shipments to and from students.
- Instructor sends the supplies to student.
- Student returns supplies and jewelry to instructor, to be fired and polished by instructor.
- Instructor sends final piece back to student.
These activities are suitable for support groups, conferences, or gatherings. Please contact Holly Gage at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information, and to book a fun-filled session!
Christopher and Holly Gage are sharing Christopher’s story of survival from his devastating burn accident by creating what we are calling Warrior Scar Jewelry. The idea came when Christopher was well enough for Holly to replicate a portion of his scars to make him a Warrior Scar Pendant. Artfully capturing his scars in silver, the process was painless. It cast his scars in a new light, telling the story of his experience of beating incredible odds while honoring his journey in a crafted jewelry piece, thoughtfully inscribed on the reverse with words from Holly’s heart. How empowering!
The idea of the Warrior Scar Jewelry coincided with the need for us to pay it forward for the immense amount of kindness sent our direction by doctors, nurses, family, and friends. That led us to volunteer at Camp Susquehanna. This wonderful camp is where burn survivors ages six to sixteen can come for support and understanding. Now held annually in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, the camp runs for four days and nights each June. Part of the camp’s philosophy and goals are to provide children with burns a safe place for healing. Also, it is a place where they can share their feelings about difficult experiences, even if for the first time.
Our goal at camp was to relay a positive message about the children’s scars and to help them fundamentally change how they see them. Anyone surviving a traumatic injury is quite the warrior. They have extraordinary bravery, resilience, and their scars have a story to be told.
The most amazing things happened during class with the younger kids ages six through twelve. They paired up to talk about the subject of their scars. There were genuine growth moments, as they touched them and shared stories. These rare moments were priceless gems bringing incredible cathartic energy to the room. While looking at the various scars, emphasis was placed on the typography and height of the scar – the better the jewelry would look when done. Of course, this points to the scars they personally think are the worse, yet they got excited about finding “better” candidates for their jewelry.
Once the project was completed at the end of camp, what came next was another one of those experiences we will never forget. The children started showing everyone the Warrior Scar Jewelry they made, not just those in the workshop but also everyone throughout the camp. They would hold up the jewelry right next to the scar and compare. Some would even say, “Touch the jewelry, now touch the scar, look they are the same.” There was so much excitement in that “ah-ha” moment. There was such an overwhelming feeling of amazement as the children leaped from fear to pride, maybe even a paradigm shift, in how they see their scars. Perhaps they found an additional level of bravery in the moments they could now share with others.
We hope to share these very personal creations with the burn community specifically and the trauma community to help people tell their story with hope, strength, and pride. Christopher and Holly plan to travel more and teach others how to make their own scar jewelry as therapeutic activities.
Burn survivor, age 7, who attended the Scar Warrior Jewelry Workshop at Camp Susquehanna Burn Camp for Children. This is a conversation with Christina Booher, Lyla’s mother, concerning her Daughter’s
Christina Booher: “Holly, thank you!! She [Lyla] is amazing! She is so proud of her necklace and showed it off the second she stepped off the bus!! She had us feel her necklace and then feel her scar because they are the same!”
Holly: “Now that’s super cool!”
Christina Booher: “Holly, she said she can’t wait to show everyone! She called my parents and my in laws on the way home to tell them about her scar necklace! She even said she’s going to show the kids at school when it starts back up again! Her confidence is higher now than when she left!”
Holly: “Thank you for telling me, what a gift!”
Christina Booher: “Holly you’re welcome! Thank you for helping her create something so amazing! I asked her if she made it for me and she said, ‘No, it’s mine,’ and you gave her something no one else ever could!”