Development of creative activities has long been an integral part of peer education at Perry Wellness Center. Why? There is increasing evidence that regular participation in creative activities directly improves individuals’ health and well being, as well as that of the communities in which they live.
Organizations such as the Arts & Health Foundation tout the value of the arts and creativity. We believe that creative expression:
- Provides an outlet for expressing one’s feelings;
- Improves concentration and focus;
- Helps relieve stress by relaxing both the body and mind;
- Builds confidence and improves self-esteem;
- Improves manual dexterity’
- Helps people connect with each other;
- Ultimately builds more resilient communities.
To accommodate our growing population and our increased emphasis on art education, we are considering future spaces on the campus that may provide the best location for quiet creative expression. The number of art and craft projects is growing – from creative crocheting to drawing classes. And each week, volunteer Vangie Perry continues to visit the center to provide creative art projects for eager peers.
Several of the PWC staff have a background in the creative arts, providing opportunities for one-on-one mentoring with some of our talented peers. For example, peer Michelle Maness has expressed her desire to be a photographer. She is now being mentored by staff member Mulkey McMichael, a retired art educator. Michelle has already begun a photography project and will have several new photographs available for viewing in coming weeks.
Javin Baker looks to Jeff Williams for guidance in developing his book of drawings and writings about a character he created to help him better address his mental health concerns.
Jeff, an award-winning artists who has had paintings displayed at the Louvre, now finds satisfaction in serving as a personal teacher and mentor to a budding artist. And Mulkey, who once taught Jeff, appreciates seeing the process come full circle.
“Like it was when I taught,” Mulkey explains, “The discovery of exceptional and more creative young people is exciting. To see Jeff, my former student, share his wealth of creativity and expression with another student is most rewarding.”
In the above photo, Mulkey meets with Michelle to discuss camera techniques as Jeff works with Javin on his book project.