August 31, 2021
Holding art supplies are: Amber Vanderkroft, left, a Lethbridge College student; therapy aide Hannah Yunick, right, and recreation therapist Heidi Davis, in front. Thanks to the Darlene Murphy Building Capacity Bursary, art kits are being given for free to clients of the Therapeutic Recreation Creative Journey virtual health therapy group in South Zone. Photo supplied.
Art supplies and kits are being handed out to promote the healing power of art. “Providing artist kits to clients in South Zone removes many barriers and allows participation in this leisure, long after their therapeutic program ends,” says recreation therapist Heidi Davis.
Story by Sherri Gallant
The healing power of art has long been recognized and now, thanks to a bursary from the Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA), more individuals can explore their vision and enjoy the creative benefits across the South Zone.
The Darlene Murphy Building Capacity Bursary — a $2,000 grant — is now funding art kits for clients in the Therapeutic Recreation Creative Journey virtual health therapy group. The supplies are going to individuals who may have financial, transportation and/or COVID-19 restriction barriers that hinder their ability to access art supplies.
“Providing artist kits to clients in South Zone removes many barriers and allows participation in this leisure activity, long after their therapeutic program ends,” says recreation therapist Heidi Davis.
The benefits of a therapeutic art program include the opportunity to lessen loneliness, to boost one’s perception of well-being, to foster the ability to engage in art independently, and to experience creative expression.
Over 12 months, clients who’ve already taken part in the program demonstrated an average increase in well-being of more than 20 per cent.
“It supports virtual care initiatives in a meaningful way,” Davis adds. “Darlene Murphy was a strong contributor to ATRA, our professional association, and believed in empowering individuals to experience improved well-being, whatever their health journey involved.”
Through the creation and free distribution of art kits, barriers to participation have been identified and eliminated, allowing more clients to engage in virtual health therapy.
In the past, some clients have shied away from taking part for a variety of reasons — including not being able to pay for supplies, not being able to drive or due to their fear of using public transit and COVID-19 — adding to their sense of isolation.
Providing free art supplies for use during virtual therapy, and letting clients keep the kits for their independent leisure, not only generates more clients, but also eliminates any perceived risks with sharing resources.
Recreation therapists select the clients who will receive the kits through a comprehensive assessment process to ensure equality. Up to 60 clients will get kits, which include: acrylic paint, oil pastels, a watercolour pallet set, watercolour paper and professional brushes, along with a list of optional supplies the client can gather around their home.
The kind contributions of ATRA and the Darlene Murphy Building Capacity Bursary will be acknowledged by an attached label. As well, clients will be encouraged to share their comments on how they have benefited or enjoyed the kits.