Bringing world of art, music to adults with disabilities

Since January, East Suburban Resources (ESR) and Stepping Up Moving Forward have teamed up to bring art programs to adults with disabilities.

The new ArtWorks program  focuses on drama, both therapeutic and participatory music, limited photography opportunities and fine arts. ESR is a multipurpose non-profit group in Stillwater that supports adults with special needs in community-based employment and strives to improve services for these adults with day programs.

“Until now, art programs like ArtWorks haven’t been available and families and consumers of our services have been expressing a desire for it,” said ESR Director Ed Bovey. “They’ve been transported to Minneapolis and St. Paul to participate in classes like this. It’s hard because most of our consumers are unable to drive and consumers are depending on someone else to transport them to these classes. It’s prohibited a lot of people from doing it in our area and it just seemed like the right thing to do.”

The groups have organized the programs with art consultants in the area, tailoring lessons learned in the programs to real-life situations.

In drama classes, situations are created to develop social and work behavior. The class focuses on things that occur in real work life and participants are asked to act out both the right and wrong ways to handle the situations.

“It results in a lot of role-playing and it’s been quite beneficial for some of our consumers,” Bovey said.

In the music portion, participants create and write song lyrics and tunes while other participants add dance moves along the way. The fine arts portion of the program allows participants to produce original art on tote bags and other projects. The totes will be sold at Summer Tuesdays next week.

“So far, participation in the program is high,” Bovey said. “Sometimes we’ve had 40 people. It’s been a very positive experience and we’re gaining higher participation going forward.”

Bovey said ESR encourages participation in the program because they feel it’s important.

“We strongly encourage people to participate, especially if some people have been unable to work because working and having something to do is always good,” Bovey said.

Participants come as their schedules permit and classes change quarterly. For more information on ESR and ArtWorks or to enroll in the program contact information can be found at their website.