WAC Gives Back
Therapeutic Arts Program: Connecting the Community Through the Arts
To make a positive difference in the lives of children and adults through expressive experiences that impact a person’s psychosocial, physical, mental and emotional well-being.
WAC Gives Back is a therapeutic arts program that focuses on unique populations with an emphasis on cancer patients and their caregivers, veterans who are homeless, senior citizens, and children with special needs. Current and past partnering organizations include: Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, Homes for the Brave, and Meadow Ridge.
This program focuses on unique populations with an emphasis on cancer patients and their caregivers, veterans who are homeless, senior citizens, and children with special needs. Current and past partnering organizations include: Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, Bridgeport Hospital, Homes for the Brave, Meadow Ridge and Westport Continuing Education.
Programming is delivered in multi-workshop artist residencies that pairs uniquely qualified teaching artists with each population who create lesson plans modeled around materials and techniques that best serve each population at no cost to the participants or the organization to ensure that individuals who are in need of our services can participate regardless of their economic status.
WAC Gives Back is founded on three key principles:
- Providing enriched instruction with innovative materials and techniques
- Using adaptive learning techniques to empower and celebrate individual creativity
- Creating a space for personal growth and development regardless of age, ability or background
Teaching artists are knowledgeable and trained to assess the needs of the population they work with, and make special modifications to techniques and materials based on their abilities. This may mean avoiding supplies with a strong smell when working with a cancer patient actively receiving treatment or it may mean choosing specific textures over others when working with children with special needs.
Past projects and workshops include:
- Designing and painting large, unused generators on the Homes for the Brave property to help foster a sense of community and personal accomplishment
- Constructing 10 “Art Bras” themed around different art techniques and materials commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Smilow-Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven
- Figure drawing from a live model at Meadow Ridge
- Creating mixed-media crystal balls with children with special needs that encouraged them to look to think critically about their concept of self
The Westport Arts Center is grateful to our generous donors for their support in funding this important work.
To learn more about WAC Gives Back and about ways to support the program, contact Lillie Fortino, Director of Education.
Making the Arts Accessible to Underserved, Urban Youth in Fairfield County
To enhance urban public education through exposure to creative arts-learning experiences that would not otherwise be available.
Connections is an outreach program designed to provide dynamic arts experiences to underserved school-aged children regardless of economic, social or geographic circumstances. Through an artist-in-residency program, Connections provides students in urban communities, within their own school environments, with resources to learn an art form under the tutelage of specialized teaching artists. These artists are expert in their field as well as practiced educators who are able to coordinate lesson plans with classroom teachers to bolster curriculum and to expand the classroom’s capabilities, often in the form of introducing unique materials, professional quality art supplies and intricate lesson plans. In addition to the classroom residency, each Connections partnership includes at least one art excursion to a New York metropolitan area arts and cultural institution.
Over the past 7 years, the program has allowed more than 1,500 students to learn valuable critical thinking, communication and visual literacy skills that have not only enhanced their classroom-learning experiences but also served to prepare them for college.
The primary goals of Connections are to use art as a vehicle for learning and to enhance the relationship between arts learning and classroom instruction. The program focuses on the following objectives:
- To encourage students to engage in creative problem solving through the arts
- To look at the word in a different way – through different lenses
- To give students time to trust in their imagination and power of expression
- To provide students with out-of-school opportunities or field trips and to expose them to professionals who can act as mentors
To learn more about the Connections program, please contact Lillie Fortino, Director of Education.