updated 08/21/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/21/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT
NOW: Ricciardelli—whom kids call the Art Lady—draws from 60 to 140 youngsters a night and reaches about 1,800 each summer. "It makes me happy when I do something beautiful," says Kahsona Douglas, 10. Local police approve. "It gives kids confidence and motivation," says New Haven police officer Mike Novella. Ricciardelli, whose first group included a boy who used art to cope with his grief after his mother was shot and killed, has her own reasons to keep going. "There are a lot of needy children," she says. "They know they can count on me."
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