Embracing Healing and Awareness: NACASA’s Canvas of Courage Event

04/16/2024 by Taylor Holston

Last week, Northern Arizona residents embraced healing and self-care during NACASA’s Canvas of Courage event for National Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April. The NACASA team transformed the Museum of Contemporary Art Flagstaff event space into a relaxing, healing environment where survivors and their loved ones were encouraged to create art with three local artists who graciously contributed their own unique projects.
Canvas of Courage Sexual Assault Awareness Event Banner.

What is NACASA? 

NACASA stands for Northern Arizona Care and Services After Assault. It is a program of North Country HealthCare that provides a safe place, medical treatment, and support for adult and adolescent victims of sexual assault and domestic violence strangulation. Victims are encouraged to come to North Country HealthCare for help and to explore their options with a NACASA representative after an assault. Sometimes after assault, a medical forensic exam may be recommended. North Country HealthCare’s NACASA examiners are specially trained to provide comprehensive care to sexual assault victims and may provide expert testimony in court if a case goes to trial.

NACASA Provides 

  • Medical/forensic examinations in a calm, quiet and confidential setting 
  • Medication to prevent sexually transmitted infections 
  • Emergency contraception 
  • Survivor support services, including referrals to mental health counseling, support groups and victim advocacy 

Canvas of Courage 

The NACASA team invested significant effort in thoughtfully planning and ensuring that the event was centered around the needs of survivors. “Creativity has research backing as a form of self-care, and making art or crafting together is proven to be therapeutic,” said NACASA Clinical Coordinator and Registered Nurse Sienna St. John. “Aside from that, our work and the work of our community partners touches on some very grim areas of life, and we as nurses or advocates can feel isolated and traumatized. Seeing our staff and their families having an amazing time listening to music, enjoying food, and making art together reminded me that there are so many good and hopeful things in life.”

2 woman paint pansies with watercolors

Artist Elaine Dillingham taught participants how to paint pansies with watercolors using the real flower as inspiration. Elaine is a Flagstaff local contributing to the community with 20 years of experience as an art instructor at Coconino Community College (CCC).


Caryn Bopp taught participants how to create stamp designs and take them home to use another time. Caryn has lived in Arizona for over 25 years, incorporating elements and colors of the southwest into her art, and contributing to the community by teaching and assisting at NAU, Coconino, and Yavapai Community College.


Flagstaff artist Kayley Quick created a community mural for all to participate in and contribute to. She plans to donate the finished piece to North Country HealthCare. A passionately creative painter, graphic designer, and teacher, Kayley does it all, from murals to performances; layering mediums, and merging the digital and fine art worlds. Kayley previously taught graphic design at Flagstaff High School and did multiple successful projects with students.


They also had a space for journaling, affirmation card making, and breathing exercises.


Members from the Northern Arizona Victim Witness Services team were there to provide information on crisis intervention, victim and witness advocacy, and referrals to social service agencies.

National Sexual Assault Awareness Month 

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) calls attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and impacts every person in the community. Sexual Assault Awareness Month aims to raise awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it. This year, SAAM is celebrating its 17th anniversary with the theme “Embrace Your Voice” to inform individuals on how they can use their words to promote safety, respect, and equality to stop sexual violence before it happens. You can show your support by standing up for survivors, standing up to victim blaming, shutting down rape jokes, correcting harmful misconceptions, promoting everyday consent, and practicing healthy communication with children.

About Sexual Violence

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Sexual violence is a broad term and includes rape, incest, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism. It is a serious and widespread problem, as nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape at some time in their lives, and 1 in 67 American men have experienced rape or attempted rape. Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and seniors. Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family, trusted individuals, or strangers; of these, the first three are most common.
The positive: we are talking about it. Individuals, communities, and programs like NACASA are successfully combating the risk of sexual violence through conversations, policies, events like Canvas of Courage, and research-based tools that promote safety, respect, and equality. By promoting safe behaviors and healthy relationships, we can create safe and equitable communities where every person is treated with respect.


NACASA at North Country HealthCare 

2920 N. Fourth St. Flagstaff, AZ 86004 

24 Hour Crisis Line, Coconino, Navajo and Apache Counties

(Exams are available in Flagstaff, Holbrook, Show Low & Springerville)
928.527.1900 or 1.877.634.2723 

National Sexual Assault Hotline

1.800.656.HOPE (4673) 

To report to your local police department, call 911 

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