by Morgan Yeatts
Here at the Academy Center of the Arts’, our mission is to serve the community through arts and culture, and outreach is a crucial aspect of that mission. When a chance for the ACOA to partner with the Bridges Residential Treatment Center arose, it was yet another perfect opportunity to put this mission into practice.
Bridges Residential Treatment Center is a program by Centra which houses children ages 6 through 17 who suffer from chronic mental health problems. The program is dedicated to providing a therapeutic, nurturing environment in which these children can feel safe and be encouraged to thrive.
While the Bridges program provides excellent opportunities and resources, many of the children in the program don’t have access to traditional art classes or arts education on a regular basis. For Kelly Posenauer, Director of Education at the Academy, the route we chose to take the program was obvious. “Art,” she says, “is basically an avenue for healing…and a way to create open communication”. She says that, because of the children’s mental health problems, “in a traditional classroom setting, [they] often act out and don’t get the attention they need, so they don’t get to participate in programs such as art. By coming here, some of these kids are experiencing art classes for the first time”.
Participating children attended classes once a week during the 6-week program, participating in both a pottery class and an art class. Kelly says that there has been nothing but positive feedback from the administration and teachers at Bridges. “It’s been a great relationship and the kids really look forward to coming each week”.
The Academy plans to hold the program again this coming fall and hopes to continue to find new ways to reach those in the community whose access to arts and culture is limited.