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Lindsay Koehn and Samantha Repa getting ready for the Community Art Show at the Madison.

Occupational Therapy students promote life skills through art therapy

March 1, 2017 — 

Throughout history art has been used for self-expression and as a way to help bring people together.

Lindsay Koehn and Samantha Repa, both students at the College of Rehabilitation Sciences in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, are using art therapy to help some of the most marginalized members of our community.

Currently completing their Master of Occupational Therapy Intermediate 2 placement at the Madison, an 85-unit supportive housing complex run by Siloam Mission, Koehn and Repa are also planning a Community Art Show at the Madison on March 2 where residents and patrons of Siloam Mission will have the opportunity to display or sell their artwork to the public.

Each artist has priced his or her own piece and can choose to either keep or donate the profits from any sales. The art show will also accept general donations which will be used for funding arts and crafts programming at the Madison and Siloam Mission.

Building on the work of previous occupational therapy students who had started an art therapy group and hosted a successful art show, Koehn and Repa decided to expand upon their work by engaging the larger Siloam Mission community and the general public in this event.

“We have been visiting small businesses in the neighbourhood with residents to spread the word and put up posters,” Koehn said. “So far, we have approximately 25 different artists who have contributed various types of artwork ranging from painted canvasses, colouring book pages, and their personal arts and crafts.”

According to Koehn and Repa, the experience with art therapy helps residents of the Madison work on a wide range of life skills.

“Art therapy requires the artist to make decisions and be in control, use gross and fine motor coordination, dexterity, problem solving, perception, mental flexibility, and many other skills in a novel way,” Repa says. “Creating art in a group setting can help people improve their communication and social skills, share their experiences and feelings in a safe environment while forming healthy relationships with other people.”

For Koehn and Repa, their placement at the Madison has provided them with invaluable experience that they will take into their future careers as occupational therapist.

“Ultimately, occupational therapy is a client-centred profession,” says Koehn. “This means that the client is the expert in their own lives. Occupational therapists are especially well equipped to provide art therapy through groups at the Madison because of the wide variation of the cognitive and physical abilities of the residents.”

The students have found they’ve been learning just as much as the residents of the Madison.

“It has been an enjoyable and gratifying experience to work with both residents and patrons of Siloam Mission and the Madison,” says Repa. “We hope that the art show can help develop a sense of community and connection within the Madison and in the larger neighbourhood of Winnipeg.”

What: Community Art Show

When: Thursday, March 2, 2017
6:30-9:30 p.m.

Where: The Madison, 210 Evanston Street, Winnipeg, MB

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