G Hannelius is not your typical 16-year old. For starters, she’s the star of the hit Disney Channel show Dog with a Blog. But it’s what she does when the camera stops rolling that really sets the young actress apart.
For the past five years, Hannelius has been working with the organization A Window Between Worlds, a non-profit that partners with domestic violence shelters, sexual assault agencies and veteran organizations to host art workshops and promote healing through painting, crafting and other creative activities.
And Hannelius adds that the programs are not just for victims, but really for anyone looking to improve his or her life and find support. “If you want to go and heal for whatever reason, this is the place to do it.”
“It’s been very therapeutic,” the actress tells PEOPLE of her experience volunteering with A Window Between Worlds, which is based in L.A. “I go with my family to the workshops. I’ve loved creating art with such a wonderful, warm group of people.”
Hannelius has logged a lot of hours with the non-profit and created a lot of art, but there’s one specific creation that sticks out in her mind: a shrinky dink (a tiny, colorful colorful toy made of large sheets that shrinks in the oven.) “I made a little shrinky dink with a bunch of words on it – courage, hope, family, love – words that I keep very close to my heart. I keep it in my handbag at all times and look at it throughout the day.”
Since 2013, the energetic Disney star – who’s also found time to create an app, Make Me Nails, that launched April 4th – has hosted AWBW’s annual fundraising community event, Art in the Afternoon. This year the fundraiser will take place on on May 2 at the Venice Skills Center in Venice, California. (There will be music, dancing, arts and crafts, and – wait for it – In-N-Out burger.)
“It’s such a fun event,” she says, adding that this year will be even more fun since she’s bringing along some of her fellow Disney star friends.
Tickets to the May 2 event can be purchased on awbw.org.