Arts For Health Sarasota-Manatee Presents at Florida Health Care Activity Coordinators’ Association District VI Meeting on July 21, 2016.
It’s difficult to imagine a more ideal audience for an arts and health presentation than the group gathered at the recent Florida Health Care Activity Coordinators’ Association District VI meeting at Kobernick-Anchin-Benderson in Sarasota. Guest speaker, Hedda-Matza-Haughton, LCSW, President, For The Health of It Consultation Services and Co-Chair of Arts for Health Sarasota-Manatee, Inc., opened her presentation by sharing the history, mission and vision of Arts for Health Sarasota-Manatee, Inc. and its commitment to advocating for the arts for the health and well-being of all.
AFHS-M, Inc., is a community-based, volunteer-driven not for profit in the state of Florida. In response to a growing need in the community, the organization has launched a professional member’s directory located on its website.
Ms. Matza-Haughton highlighted the creative work of professional members listed in this directory. These are arts and health practitioners who, with varied experience, education, and training in using an art form (visual art, drama, dance and movement, laughter, music, expressive arts, etc.), are working to promote health and wellness at all stages of life for individuals, groups, and organizations. Professional members are available to provide their services within the community. Many are experts in working with senior populations. All are listed in the directory located on the AFHS-M, Inc. website at www.ArtsforHealthSarasotaManatee.org.
What differentiates an arts and health practitioner from someone who is introducing a creative skill to others? Using the example of dance, Ms. Matza-Haughton explained that a ballroom, or other traditional dance class may be used to encourage physical movement, the acquisition of a new skill, or the continuation or improvement of a life-long held skill. These classes are valuable. AFHS-M arts and health oriented dance and movement programming differs because its primary focus is improving individual health outcomes, both physical and emotional. Each professional member gears their work to the specific needs of the populations served using their specialized modalities.
Sarasota Contemporary Dance (SCD), an AFHS-M organizational plus member, is a perfect example of an arts and health integration approach. Arts and health trained dancers from SCD work with a variety of populations, including Parkinson’s patients and their families, disabled individuals, seniors and others, all seeking to maintain their health through movement and dance.
The remainder of the morning’s presentation engaged the Florida healthcare activity coordinators in three interactive arts and health demonstrations—a visual arts process facilitated by Cynthia Bydlinski, AFHS-M, Inc. professional member and two programs presented by Ms. Matza-Haughton, one on improvisational drama and one on laughter.
Ms. Bydlinski is an expressive arts facilitator in Sarasota and Manatee. She shared a snapshot of a visual arts process titled, On Beauty, that encourages participants to slow down and focus their creative attention on pebbles and shells, two seemingly ordinary objects found in nature. Taking time to discover the beauty in these objects through their colors, lines, shapes, textures and memories evoked would lead, in an actual workshop, to a portrait or scene using watercolor paints on paper.
What was happening here? Ms. Bydlinski explained that by being encouraged to slow down to really look at something, by discovering the beauty in objects found in nature, by tapping into the mindset of an artist and by providing choice at a time when the ability to choose is often restricted, an opportunity for improved health and healing (meaning a greater connection to one’s self and others) may often occur.
Ms. Matza- Haughton followed Ms. Bydlinksi’s presentation with some fun-filled interactive activities that demonstrated her “Laugh For the Health of It” workshops and programs. She had the entire room out of their seats wearing different laughter hats and other props, all with the purpose of laughing while learning, focused on the positive physical and emotional health benefits and how each participant can increase laughter and joy in their daily life. She also highlighted her improvisational drama programs, entitled, “ Words Not Spoken,” which can be helpful in problem solving around challenging life events faced by senior residents, such as loss of loved ones, transitioning from one level of care to another, losing independence, etc. Ms. Matza- Haughton mentioned that using improvisational drama can also be beneficial for staff training.
April Moschini, ADC/Activity Director at Kobernick-Anchin-Benderson, said the following after seeing this presentation: “Arts for Health Sarasota-Manatee is a resourceful organization providing wellness programs, using the arts for seniors and others in our community. Kobernick-Anchin-Benderson recently became affiliates of AFHS-M and I can see the benefits offered to residents: helping them gain strength, inner peace, and happiness when confronted with challenging life events. It is so important for seniors to learn the various ways to help themselves with expression through the arts.”
AFHS-M, Inc. welcomes individuals, organizations, businesses and community groups to engage the services from their professional member directory. To learn more, including how you or your organization may become an individual member or an affiliate member of AFHS-M, Inc., please contact AFHS-M at (941) 315-5904, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and or by learning more on their website at www.artsforhealthsarasota-manatee.org.