As a roving ambassador, sometime blogista, and not so undercover Art-Reach board member, it is truly my pleasure to be able to “Share the Experience” with you, the reader. I want to tell you how Art-Reach and Build-a-Bridge (an Art-Reach member) combined forces on Friday, February 19 to combat the “Groundhog Blues” at a Day of Healing for over 40 caregivers.
To kick off the Day of Healing, Penelope Reed, Artistic Director of Hedgerow Theater lead the entire group through a number of “Theater Games” designed to break the ice and get the neurons moving. Folks were paired off to perform mirroring movement games which helped them to get to know each other and offered tools they could later use with their own clients.
Workshops followed Penelope’s presentation, and were conducted for groups of 4-10 participants, designed to engage body and mind in creative, relaxing activities – Poetry, Clay Sculpture, Breading Baking, Beaded Jewelry Making, and International Folk and African Dance Movement Class. Workshop time was definitely designed to be non-stress playtime for adults! Debi, Recreation Supervisor from Riverview House, explained that she was so excited to attend the Day of Healing that she would have even taken the day off to attend on her own time.
Lenape Nanticoke Shaman and Assistant Chief Brother, Ron Wandering Feather, led a Bead Jewelry Workshop. Monique, a supervisor from Woodstock Family Center, said, “I am interested in beading on an ongoing basis, and a number of ladies in our class are wearing the beaded earrings they made today.”
In the kitchen Chef Chiwishi Abney, instructor for Build-a-Bridge’s Discovery Program and owner of a catering firm, led a bread making workshop. The chef prepared several types of dough for the class to work on, and gave each of the participants recipes for whole wheat bread, challah, and a “letting go” (pizza) dough. Unlike the first two types of dough, the letting go dough was a therapeutic tool used to release tension, anxiety and negative emotions. Participants kneaded the letting go dough to remove “doubt”, “fear of change” and “fear of flying”. After lunch, the loaves were removed hot from the oven and everyone sampled the bread with jam or butter. Yum!
Next I visited the Poetry Workshop conducted by Dr. Naia Claude Schulte. Naia read some sensory evocative works of Langston Hughes, and urged the caregivers to find their own voices and inspirations for imagery. Jane, Program Director of Drueding Center/Project Rainbow, was “…very interested in developing imagery, composing poems and learning how to listen to poets. I think that a poetry program can have a big impact on Project Rainbow”.
Across the hallway from the poets, Michelle, from Mosaic Delaware, participated in international folk dancing with peers and instructors Anne, Bill, and John. Caregivers learned a number of Eastern European and Greek dances accompanied by the accordion. Hands were waving, feet flying and handkerchiefs fluttering in the joy of movement. Michelle told me that she enjoyed both the folk dancing and African dance because the instructors talked about types of music and national traditions regarding the dances.” Angela Watson conducted the second part of the workshop with African dance moves. She encouraged the caregivers to listen to their bodies and work out their emotions through music and dance movement.
Visiting clay sculptor, and Art-Reach in-Facility artist, Beth McGuiggan’s session was my last stop. She led participants in creating tiles using coils and slabs of clay. As I walked around the room to look at the caregivers’ work, I was really impressed by how much each participant had built in such a short time with little previous experience. Yasmin, Director of Elwyn New Visions shared her experience, saying that the workshop “Gave me the opportunity to look into myself to express how I feel, not only to be something to others, but to focus on my own feelings. This is not something I ordinarily do.” What a great accomplishment, Michelle! And all before lunch!
During lunch Angel Baby Music, an Art-Reach In-Facility artist, provided smooth jazz entertainment. At this point many of the caregivers had received their chair massages from Pamela Brown of Pampered Bodies Spa & Wellness Center and floated into the room to enjoy the music.
After lunch, Vivian, Co-Founder and visionary of Build-a-Bridge, conducted the most worthwhile speed networking event I have ever attended. She wisely used this time to give participants the chance to explain the good work they do. During the networking, I discovered that many of the caregivers were volunteers.
For the last group activity, Vivian marched the caregivers, maracas in hand, into the conference room to experience the final activity– a full scale drumming circle with Art-Reach In-Facility artist Tony Mascara. All 46 participants had an instrument, and could be heard enthusiastically drumming all the way down the hall way.
My new friend Eddie best summed up Day of Healing “… this is a wonderful day for networking and no stress! I would give it an A. More than a day of healing it is a chance to refresh, rebuild, retool, and renew. Art Reach and Build-a-Bridge always do a good job!”
I could not have said it better myself, Eddie!
-by Maureen Zug