Toms River Teen Using Art To Help Heal Mental Health & Addiction

Sophie Regenye (center) with Nick Zorojew and Yvonne Yaar after the Planning Board approved the project. (Photo courtesy Alysa Regenye)

TOMS RIVER – A Toms River Girl Scout is attacking issues with mental health and addiction from a new angle: art. Alessandra Sophia Regenye is working to create a mural that will destigmatize mental health and addiction while also drawing attention to the ways art can help heal.

Regenye’s mural is titled “Toms River Art Heals,” and will be located outside Cafe Enigma in downtown Toms River once complete. Currently, Regenye is collecting the supplies she needs to work on the mural.

In a letter, she stated: “My goal is decreasing the stigma attached to mental health and addiction issues; and, increasing awareness of holistic health approaches many forget to consider, while bringing attention to the impact art can have on healing and building resiliency.”

She emphasizes that these holistic approaches can be less expensive and more accessible to everyone. It also lessens the need for treatment with potentially addictive medications.

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The Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District, the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce, and the Toms River Planning Board are in support of Regenye’s mural idea. Also, Yvonne Yaar has helped her to design the new mural and create a list of supplies. Yaar has been involved in various murals throughout the township, even creating a few herself at The Shops @53 and Family First Funding.

While Regenye cannot accept monetary donations for the project, she can accept donations of supplies. She has made a list of needed items; those who contribute from this list will have their name or company included on the donors list. The Toms River Business Improvement District is accepting donations on her behalf.

“The mural’s visual image and message, Toms River ‘Art Heals,’ will touch many lives who see it as a reminder of how they have survived difficult times, how working through different forms of art can be very healing and is a healthy solution to helping one cope with life’s big challenges,” she stated.

The mural will represent these ideals for its lifespan of about 30 to 40 years.