Post 2: Art at Orchard Cove

An underlying theme that has emerged in the courses I have taken at Brandeis is that each person has a unique story that should be recognized and valued. Furthermore, people have the right to be heard and express themselves at every age. I have taken this idea into account as I work with a population that is often undervalued and not given the attention, respect and resources it deserves. The Vitalize 360 coach and I created an art class in which residents created dream/vision boards that represent their goals, dreams, and overall things they want to be, do or have.

With four residents seated around a long table in the art studio at Orchard Cove, the art session began. I started off by giving a short presentation on  what a vision board is and the purpose of creating one. Then my supervisor explained how a vision board relates to the Vitalize 360 program and achieving WMM. Finally, we led the residents in creating their own vision boards. Magazines, inspirational quotes and other pictures were scattered around the table. The residents cut out pictures and words from the magazines that represented their vision, and then glued them onto a foam core board.

I found it so interesting how differently each person interpreted the art assignment. One resident started cutting out pictures and realized that a vision board did not properly describe what she felt she was creating, but rather a current state board which showed what she likes in her life now. Another resident, who writes poetry in her spare time, found that the pictures in the magazines did not speak to her as much as the words did. When I came over to check on her, I was amazed by the visually pleasing poem she had created using different cutouts from magazines and she read it to me.

Another resident had greater difficulty grasping the concept of the project, and I went over to help explain it to her. She had negative thoughts and feelings about the future and what her purpose was in the world. I felt a little discouraged because I was not sure how to engage her in the project. However, my supervisor had brought these small square pieces of paper with inspirational life quotes, which the resident found appealing. A woman next to her helped her glue the quotes to her board, and had a very positive attitude on life.

I was originally nervous about leading this project because I thought the residents may find it to be too fundamental or juvenile, but that was not the case at all. This project was a means of self expression and showed what is important to the individual. In helping to create and lead this activity, I realized the importance of the individual story and self-expression.

Example of a vision board that I showed to the residents

Orchard Cove promotes healthy aging, physically, mentally and socially. In Vitalize 360, the wellness coach takes each resident as an individual and seeks to help the individual lead their best life. At every age, people need to feel part of a community and everyone has something to offer.

My supervisor giving a wellness talk to some of the residents outside