Modelling, mentoring, coaching? Which word suits the learning relationship when older folks engage in learning new skills and information and how it is shared? The groups highlighted in this article are participants in the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS) and the Cresteramics Society. Each group has a day program with social activities providing opportunities for social engagement, learning, participating in community, and enhancing their wellbeing. We know about each other’s programs through past and ongoing collaborative projects such as when Cresteramics folks visit TAPS as an employment site and for volunteering.
Last fall we heard about the Shadow Boxes that Cresteramics were doing in their art program. That idea took hold at TAPS when they were shown samples, and staff and clients from Cresteramics came to TAPS to teach and work alongside seniors. The resulting engagement as everyone assisted and encouraged each other led to projects that amazed us all. They had adopted an agricultural theme and some were on display at the Creston Valley Fall Fair as part of the A FULL PLATE Canada 150 project.
Both TAPS and Cresteramics recognize the benefits of engaging in creative projects and include this in their activities. While we can learn from each other and certainly get ideas from well, just about anywhere these days, we wanted to provide opportunities for our seniors to develop new skills with an established artist/mentor. We were successful in receiving a CKCA (Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance) Program 1 grant through the Community of Creston Arts Council to help us hire two different artists for a series of classes. Joining us are 4 clients from Cresteramics with a staff member and so the fun has continued. Our TAPS volunteers are integral to these projects, sharing and learning alongside the participants.
Win Dinn, an accomplished mixed media artist was our first artist who modelled and coached us through the steps of creating a quilted collage project. In talking of the group she posted…”they play hard, and with spectacular results.” “there were some crazily creative quilted collages…no two alike” “I was so impressed at the engagement of the participants as they were …helping each other, chatting, exchanging news and ideas and generally keeping a sense of community which is often challenging for seniors living on their own ..”
Eileen Gidman, well known watercolour artist and instructor is our current mentor, taking us step by step through watercolour techniques and utilizing valley and local agricultural images inspired by A Full Plate for Canada 150. The group is again comprised of TAPS seniors, staff and volunteers and Cresteramic participants and staff with a high learning curve all around! However, in Eileen’s capable hands we nearly completed one painting in our first session, and two more to go.
So, as well as us learning new things to continue with in our programs, TAPS has a continuing Roadshow: Seniors Connecting and Reconnecting (funded by the New Horizons Program for Seniors a Federal Government program) where we visit other facilities in Creston and share information or things we’ve learned. On the schedule, Nikkyl Place, Crestview and Swan Valley seniors will soon be able to participate and learn as we take the Shadow Boxes and more ‘on the road’. Our seniors, volunteers and staff will now be the modelers, mentors or coaches, but sometimes it’s hard to say which is which as skills and experience are shared all around.
Thanks to the Community of Creston Arts Council for the role they played in both our CKCA grant and the A Full Plate project thus supporting access and participation of all ages for a lively cultural community.
TAPS operates under the auspices of Valley Community Services www.valley.services
For program, volunteering or donation enquiries contact 250-428-5547 VCS or 250-428-5585 TAPS