Creative 360 using art to embrace those with disabilities
By Barry Winslow
There’s nothing more fulfilling than finding your artistic niche and creative passions. Midland’s Creative 360 has a program for exactly this purpose. The Express Yourself Artshop, an inclusive educational art program for all abilities, including individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, started its first semester of classes in September of 2013. The Midland Area Community Foundation was proud to approve a $5,000 grant to help with supplies and other costs related to Express Yourself.
Like many great programs, the idea for Express Yourself was the result of collaboration. “In February 2013, the Arc of Midland became very interested in gathering a group of community partners to discuss the future of arts education for people of all abilities, including those with developmental, intellectual, and mental health concerns," says Rachel Gaffney, prior program coordinator. "The development of the program was a collaboration of many organizations in the community, including Creative 360, Arnold Center, Disability Network of MidMichigan, Community Mental Health for Central Michigan, and InMotion Dance Academy.”
Since inception, Express Yourself has served over 200 clients with more than 35 different art, music, drama, movement, and wellness classes.
There are several areas of practice that are taught during classes for students to learn and enjoy. Current Artshop Coordinator and award-winning artist and teacher, Allise Noble, explains that there is much more to learn at the Artshop than just drawing and painting. “We try to offer something for everyone, from painting, sculpture, and pottery to scrapbooking, decorative crafts, and woodshop," says Noble. "Woodshop has been the most popular because students love to create things that they can use in their homes. We also have a variety of dance and fitness classes, so there are a wide range of interests that students can explore.”
Express Yourself Artshop students will be displaying their artistic creations at the Artshop Exhibit and Showcase between September 2nd - October 7th at Creative 360's Gallery. The exhibit is open to the public and free of charge.
Noble stressed that while the art and creative aspect of the program is inspiring and fulfilling for both the students and teachers, even more important are the relationships formed and time spent together enjoying the creative arts. “Artshop is like a family,” says Noble. “Everyone gets to know each other well, and everyone encourages each other and takes joy in their fellow classmates' creations and successes. I love watching the growth and confidence that comes as students realize they are artists.”
For more information, please contact Carol Rumba, Executive Director of Creative 360 at 989-837-1885, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Creative 360 is located at 1517 Bayliss Street in Midland.