Creativity… Connectivity… Community… It takes a Village!


September 30, 2016

Press Release: Rebranding Disability; California Rehabilitation Institute in Conjunction With Artists for Trauma

Los Angeles, CA, September 29, 2016 ( – ​​​​​​​​Artists For Trauma (AFT) will host a red carpet charity event on Friday, September 30th in conjunction with California Rehabilitation Institute (CRI) called “Rebranding Disability.” There will be an informative panel MC’ed by Laura Sharpe, founder and CEO of AFT, John Behzad, FACHE, CEO of CRI, Dr. Janina Urussowa, Founding Partner, Bezgraniz Couture, Dr. Mary Nasmyth, Co-Chief Medical Officer, CRI and Clinical Chief for Physical Medicine and Rehab at Cedars Sinai Hospital and a performance by Infinite Flow – A Wheelchair Dance Company.
AFT was founded by philanthropist Laura T. Sharpe, who is a trauma survivor herself and selflessly wants to help other trauma survivors to be empowered, inspired and healed.

“This is truly a transformative opportunity for our local to international communities to merge strengths and intentions to discuss and share empowering quality of life solutions, services and products for the injured, re-configured and disabled communities. Together we are providing creative solutions to age-old perceptions related to the interpretation of beauty and mobility/access issues.” – LAURA SHARPE, FOUNDER AND CEO, ARTISTS FOR TRAUMA (AFT)

Numerous celebrities and VIPs are expected at this event such as Laura Sharpe, the founder of Artists for Trauma, John Behzad, CEO of California Rehabilitation Institute, Dr. Janina Urussowa, Founding Partner, Bezgraniz Couture, Dr. Mary Nasmyth, Co-Chief Medical Officer, CRI and Clinical Chief for Physical Medicine and Rehab at Cedars Sinai Hospital, celebrated actor Ford Austin (Bosch, Dahmer vs Gacy, Facebook Live with Ford and Vida), his wife, Emmy-winning producer Lauree Dash, actress and fashion blogger Vida Ghaffari (Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Mindy Project, Facebook Live with Ford and Vida, So Very Vida), actors Laurene Landon (Sky, Airplane 2, The Sequel), Mel Novak (Bruce Lee’s Game of Death, Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance), Kate Linder (The Young and The Restless, Mother’s Day), Ken Davitian (Borat, Ray Donovan), Patrick Kilpatrick (NCIS: Los Angeles, Assassin X), Rick Mora (Twilight, Band of Pirates: Blackbeard’s Map), Emmy award-winner Chad Brannon (General Hospital, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters), Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side, Paranormal Movie), Said Faraj (War Dogs, Green Zone), Marco Khan (Iron Man, Four Kings), Dominic Rains (Burn Country, The Taqwacores), Ethan Rains (NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles), Robert Wall ( Bruce Lee’s Game of Death and Enter the Dragon), Kim Estes ( Pretty Little Liars, Fresh Off the Boat), Carolyn Hennesy (General Hospital, Ray Donovan), Gloria Hendry (first African American James Bond Girl in Live and Let Die, Black Caesar), Robert Parham (Jackson Bolt, Assassin X and 5 time world Kickboxing Champion), Thomas J. Churchill (Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance, Checkpoint), Alain Washnevsky (Scandal, Septembers in Shiraz), Dawna Lee Heising (Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance, Bladerunner), EJ De La Pena (Nobility, Jingle All the Way), Tanna Frederick (The M Word, Queen of the Lot), Michelle Bernard (Any Given Sunday, Grease Live!), actress and model Miki Black (CSI: New York, Maxim, Benchwarmer), entertainment attorney Nadia Davari, Lousine Karibian, founder and CEO of the World Networks and many others.

AFT and CRI are the main sponsors for this event. Additional sponsors are Buiced, Coco Taps, Sharpe Interior Systems, Sur le Mur, Moby Arts, Bezgraniz Couture, and LA Fashion Week. “Live with Ford and Vida,” which is co-hosted by celebrated actor Ford Austin and noted fashion blogger and actress Vida Ghaffari, is proud to be a media partner for this event. Austin is a trauma survivor as well as an Ambassador for Artists For Trauma and an inspiring success story. “I feel very blessed to have been embraced by Artists For Trauma and Laura Sharpe. We hope that with the support of AFT, we can shine a bright light of hope on the spirits of all trauma survivors and those overcoming PTSD,” said Austin.

See the full press release


August 11, 2016

Press Release: Artists for Trauma Adaptive Artist Multi-Media Art Show

​​​​​​​​Artists for Trauma (AFT) held their Adaptive Artist Multi-Media Art show at the noted ENGEL & VOLKERS SOUTH BAY. This AFT fund raiser and public awareness event was a great introduction to this worthwhile charity and their mission to empower adaptive artists recovering from life altering trauma and who utilize healing through artistic platforms to expedite quality recovery and reinvention of their lives.


View Article at The Williamson Management website


August 29, 2014

Artists for Trauma and Rhythm and Joy Festival showcase the power of art – wistv

“Founded in 2011, Artists for Trauma pairs military and civilian trauma victims with sculptors, painters, actors, singers and other types of artists. Through art, trauma survivors are able to process extremely complex emotions and move forward in a positive way.”

View Article on WisTV


August 29, 2014

Artists for Trauma and Rhythm and Joy Festival showcase the power of art – myfoxphilly

“This year Artists for Trauma is teaming up with the Rhythm and Joy Festival for a fashion show and music festival. Featuring four time Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, Eric Benet, the free all-day festival will take place Saturday, Aug. 30th at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills, CA.”

View Article on


August 29, 2014

Artists for Trauma and Rhythm and Joy Festival showcase the power of art – CBS8

“Art is extremely powerful. Movies can make us laugh, songs can make us cry and paintings can often leave us deep in thought. Artists for Trauma, a non-profit dedicated to enriching the lives of trauma victims, understands that art moves people literally, figuratively and emotionally.”

View Article on CBS8


August 26, 2014

Eric Benet to headline Rhythm & Joy Festival in Woodland Hills

After a star-studded debut that included headliners Chaka Khan and Chicago-based rapper Common last year, the second annual Rhythm & Joy Festival returns, scaled back but still promising an enlightening day of music.

The family-friendly festival boasts a wellness and healing oasis, a sustainable living marketplace, arts workshops and more on Saturday at Warner Park in Woodland Hills along with more than a dozen performers including headliner Eric Benet. The upcoming performance is just another Los Angeles appearance by the Grammy-nominated crooner who recently performed at the BET Experience Fan Fest in June.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to performing for RAJ. It’s going to be a great time, with good energy and lots of love,” said Benet, who added that he plans to perform plenty of fan favorites. “I’m excited to be a part of any event that’s going to spread the Agape message of universal love.”

Last year’s inaugural festival, which spanned three days at Hummingbird Ranch in Simi Valley, saw 1,700 people a day, said festival creator Rickie Byars Beckwith. While smaller this time around, Beckwith expects 7,000 attendees for the one-day event.

“Many people may not have been able to afford the festival or reach the private ranch where it was held last year. While we loved the beauty of the ranch, we chose to go with a venue where we could serve more people,” said Beckwith, a self-described New Thought performance artist and Agape International Spiritual Center music and arts director.

This year, the festival has also partnered with Artists for Trauma, an organization that pairs military and civilian trauma survivors with artists to help them heal.

“Before it was Rhythm and Joy for anyone, now it is Rhythm and Joy for people who need it,” Beckwith said. “We’re bridging communities — who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”

Benet certainly jumped on the partnership with the festival, adding that he has attended The Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City for years now and has a great relationship with Beckwith.

“Eric’s music makes you feel good inside, makes you want to move and opens the heart,” Beckwith said.

Benet, who recently appeared as a guest on BET’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” released his sixth studio album “The One” in June 2012 on his label Jordan House Records. He said hopes to continue to do more television and acting, but will always turn to his first passion: music. He plans to release a cover album set this fall and is working on new material for an album slated for 2015.

While he didn’t want to divulge too many details, Benet said he has plenty of inspiration. He and wife, Manuela Testolini, welcomed their second daughter, Amoura Luna, in July.

“I am so happy and blessed with a beautiful family and our newest member is just a delight. There’s really no greater love,” Benet said. “I always write from my personal experiences and things that I’ve gone through and/or seen first hand through friends and family. I’m sure this new lady in my life will add to my creativity and inspire me in her own special way.”

View Article on Daily News


August 26, 2014

R&B Crooner Eric Benet Joins the 2nd Annual Rhythm and Joy Festival Line Up

Four time Grammy-nominated® singer/songwriter, Eric Benet, will appear at the 2nd Annual Rhythm and Joy Festival (RAJ 2014), held on Saturday, August 30th from 11am – 8:30pm at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills, CA. The day-long sustainable living, transformational music and arts festival features a lineup of outstanding conscious musicians from a variety of genres including Rickie Byars Beckwith, The Afro Tribes of Joseph, Charles Holt, Faith Rivera, Ali Stroker and Dani Shay from The Glee Project, Kev Choice, DJ Shiva, Luc and the Lovingtons, Nailah Porter, Freddie Ravel, Jami Lula, Daveon Overton and the Agape International Choir. The event will be hosted by renowned spiritual teacher, Panache Desai, who will also DJ as MC-IAM.

In addition to the music, title sponsor Artists for Trauma will host a fashion show featuring civilian and military trauma survivors. Entitled “Roll with it, Flow With It,” this dynamic fashion show demonstrates the power of positivity and possibilities after trauma and highlights unique apparel designed for and modeled by quadriplegic, paraplegic, and amputee models. Says Laura Sharpe, Founder and Executive Director of Artists for Trauma and trauma survivor herself, “We are a collective power of quality recovery. We teach the world what is possible after trauma, when all appears impossible. Trauma survivors are fun, tasteful, cool, hip, sexy and fashionable too! We’re excited to bring this performance art to RAJ 2014.

The festival will also present a wellness and healing oasis, green do-it-yourself demonstrations, eco-friendly fun and learning, the KUUMBA children’s pavilion, a sustainable living marketplace, vegan, vegetarian and kosher food concessions, a festival parade as well as music and arts workshops. Says RAJ 2014 Founder and Artistic Director, Rickie Byars Beckwith, “We want to inspire a collective commitment to live healthier lives in harmony with the earth. And, we want people to make friends. What better way to capture the essence of that premise than with a day of celebration—through art, music and good old-fashioned fun. Free your rhythm and your joy will follow!”

Limited reserved seating and VIP tickets are on sale now. General admission to RAJ 2014 is free and open to the public. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit

About RAJ 14

The Rhythm and Joy Festival (RAJ 2014) is a transformational experience of music and arts for the entire family. Featuring healing music of dynamic singers, musicians and performing artists, RAJ 14 is full to overflowing with eco-friendly fun and learning, art, dance, yoga, sustainable living marketplace and food court, drum circles, parades and experiential joyous festivities.

Created by Rickie Byars Beckwith, legendary New Thought performance artist, acclaimed singer songwriter and Music & Arts director of the Agape International Spiritual Center, the Rhythm & Joy Festival (RAJ 2014) is a soulful celebration that proves the impact of music as a catalyst for change. More than an alternative music festival or sustainability conference, RAJ is a transformative experience bringing together iconic music and performing artists, innovative speakers and socially responsible entrepreneurs for a full day celebration of community and creativity.

About Artists for Trauma

AFT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of both civilian and military trauma survivors by pairing recovering patients with established artists from various disciplines. The organization aims to expedite recovery through artistic expression and human connection, providing a creative portal to help patients process complex emotions, regain confidence and build self-acceptance after suffering a traumatic experience. Founded by trauma survivor Laura Sharpe in 2011, AFT was inspired by her personal journey to recovery, in which Sharpe connected with the world of art as a source of healing from her near-mortal wounds.

View Article on CNN iReport


August 19, 2014

The Woodland Hills Event: Rhythm and Joy Festival 2014


The Woodland Hills news for this month is the arrival of the 2nd Annual Rhythm and Joy. If you missed the festival last year, don’t make the same mistake this year.

The Rhythm and Joy Festival is being held on Saturday, August 30th, 2014. The Woodland Hills event is open from 10 AM to 8:30 PM. This year the festival will be held at Warner Center Park, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91367.

The Woodland Hills event will feature music that is sure to please everyone. World music, soul, jazz and urban contemporary music will be performed by various musicians.

This year the festival will include: Eric Benet, The Agape International Choir, The Afro Blues Tribe of Joseph, Charles Holt, hi-hop artist Kev Coice, Nailah Porter, and techno cool DJ Shiva to name a few. There will even be a comedian, Kyle Cease.

Music is not the only highlight of the day. There will be green living do-it-yourself demonstrations, a sustainable living marketplace, Yoga classes, festival parades, a wellness and healing oasis, an artist village, a KUUMBA Children’s Village along with drum circles.

Socially conscious vendors and an array of raw, vegan, vegetarian, organic and kosher foods will be available.

The Woodland Hills news gets even better because this is not just an alternative music festival. The goal of the festival is to reach out to people of all ages through healing music as well as dynamic musicians, singers and performing artists. The festivities are designed for everyone, make new friends and commit to healthier and eco-friendly lifestyles.

This year the founder of the festival, Rickie Byars Beckwirth, has partnered with Artists for Trauma and The Valley Cultural Center.

Artists for Trauma is a non-profit organization that works to enrich the lives of civilian and military trauma survivors. The organization’s goal is to improve recovery through the use of artistic expression and connectivity.

The Valley Cultural Center is actually this year’s host for the Rhythm and Joy Festival. The VCC was kind enough to include the Woodland Hills event at the closing of their Concert on The Greens series.

Here’s more good Woodland Hills news, the festival is free to the public. Lawn seating is available on a first come, first serve basis.

If you would like to get up close and personal, there are VIP tickets available. Your VIP tickets will reserve your seat and parking as well as help to support Artists for Trauma and Rhythm and Joy Festivals. Reserved seating is available on three levels, VIP, Silver and Bronze. Tickets can be ordered through

Now that you know what it is all about, bring your family and friends for a day of fun and enlightenment.

View Article on Woodland Hills Magazine

Los Angeles County Lifeguard Stories “Alternating Currents” Episode #3

August 6, 2014


July 22, 2014

After Trauma: A Survivor on the First Steps Toward Healing – parade

by Laura Sharpe


In 2008, Laura Sharpe was gravely injured in a horrific helicopter crash that killed three other passengers. In her column for, she writes about the recovery process for trauma survivors.

Did you know that many of the people who are out there saving lives—from EMTs and police officers to firemen and lifeguards—sometimes experience trauma themselves, due to severe and distressing conditions?

This is called secondary trauma, or vicarious trauma. (The Joyful Heart Foundation has an excellent definition on its website.) Here are a few examples of the vicarious trauma chain reaction that illustrate why it affects us so:

Recently a Level 1 trauma surgeon was explaining to me the emotional dilemma of being in a crowded ER full of patients—some in a near death state, some in severe pain —and having to decide: Who do I treat first?

What an incredible position to be in when you want to save every single person brought before you. While doctors and their teams are professionally trained, they are still human beings emphatically affected by the choices they have to make in minutes or seconds—situations in which human life and quality of recovery depend on the actions they take.

In another example, a courageous and effective long-time county lifeguard experienced serious PTSD after he responded to a multi-casualty, fiery trauma scene where death and mutilated bodies were all around. Reoccurring dreams about the incident plagued this man and affected the lives of his family members for several years.

One of the challenges of surviving trauma well is learning to use the broader base of trauma support services that are available in various local settings. (We need to remember that the the services are not meant to be exhaustive for the survivor, the primary caregiver, and the survivor’s immediate circle of support.) And in circumstances such as these, we must learn new survival skills. It’s a forced learning, if you will. But it still requires certain procedural components that are true to learning any new thing.

Here are several simple but valuable actions a person might take to implement newly-learned survival concepts:

  • Begin by listening to new instruction and the possible rationale behind it.
  • Listen to yourself and consider that this new information might or might not be useful to you.
  • Remember that discussing or sharing your feelings with someone, anyone that you are comfortable sharing your innermost feelings with, might be beneficial.
  • Try journaling without censor, allowing yourself to completely release all feelings (good, bad and indifferent) regarding the trauma. It is a helpful release.
  • Consider trusting someone else to assess and assist on your behalf if you are not able to do so. The trust aspect is especially difficult sometimes when you are newly challenged by your trauma. Trying to start with small actions and simply give new information a chance to work for your benefit is not always easy.

In addition to the medical treatment that is often necessary to address significant mental and physical results of trauma, such as disfigurement and disability, consider metaphorically re-inventing yourself. You can do this by processing complex emotions and thoughts creatively, by engaging and expressing yourself through any art form that appeals to you.

I encourage you to paint, write, sing, sculpt, meditate, photograph, talk, dance, and play to expedite your healing and recovery process so that you may begin to accept your new self, grow, and thrive.

Creativity is play. So play and laugh—laugh and laugh until you cry, cry, cry. Until you laugh at the irony of life again.

With severe trauma there might certainly be residual physical and emotional pain. What is important is that there is a full cycle of trauma release.

There is no quick fix to recovery from trauma. But there is great opportunity for quality recovery and discovery.

View Article on Parade