The Arts & Health Project: Healthy Aging Through The Arts
This project also has a Changeshop where you can read more about its latest progress.
Go to Changeshop: The Arts & Health Project.
Sustained professionally led community-engaged arts programming is proven to promote better health for seniors
About Your Organization
British Columbia Recreation & Parks Association
Canada, BC, Vancouver
Country where this solution is creating social impact
Canada, BC, Vancouver
Region in BC where your solution creates social impact
Vancouver, Coast and Mountains, Vancouver Island, Thompson Okanagan, Northern British Columbia, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Kootenay Rockies.
Is your organization a
Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Growth (your pilot is up and running, and starting to expand)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for more than 5 years
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two
The Need: Describe the need for your solution and the size and characteristics of the community(ies) your solution is engaging
Seniors are the largest growing sector of the population and marginalization and vulerability is increasing amongst the elderly.The vulnerable & marginalized seniors that participate in the Arts & Health Project deal with a broad range of social and health issues that are all exacerbated by aging. Presently there are approximately 100 seniors in Vancouver & North Vancouver particpating in A&H programming and our plans to create two new sites each year across BC, and to provide on-line learning tools for other organizations interested in implementing professionally led community-engaged arts programming will result in more opportunities for access for seniors.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Research completed by the UBC School of Nursing during the first 3 years of this project proves that participation in creative arts promotes better health for older adults. The project presently provides ongoing weekly arts workshops for seniors at six sites, each with a professional artist, an intern artist and a seniors worker.The seniors explore and build skills in a distinct creative medium e.g. digital storytelling, puppetry and performance, music and voice, etc. In 2012/2012 the groups also collaborated with eachother on projects as a way of providing seniors with a broader experience and a larger community. The projects long term goal is to increase
access to community-engaged arts programming for seniors across BC, to maintain and/or improve the health and well-being of seniors, provide targeted support for seniors dealing with marginalization or conditions of vulnerablity and to support the professional development of those interested in this work with seniors.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include the primary activities involved in your solution.
The A&H project group located at Britannia Community Centre in Vancouver is a writing group of self idenified gay,lesbian,bisexual & transgendered seniors.No one has dropped out of this group since the end of the first year of programming in 2006. An example of significant change is seen in the story of one participant who suffered from severe depression for many years. The lead artist describes this senior as someone "who spent most of her life lost in crowds, ignored, lonely, miserable, self-destructive. She now has somewhere to go once each week and feel productive, liked, respected, SEEN. She smiles occationally now. She has found a place in the group. It has taken her 6 years for her to speak out in public, share her most difficult work, and trust that the group accepts her. But it has HAPPENED!
The Britannia group focuses on developing written memoirs and the seniors are directly involved in peer mentorship and support. This interactive support and mentorship create strong bonds for the seniors. They feel connected and appreciated.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others working to address the same needs as you and indicate what sets you apart from them.
The project does not have competitors. It is the goal of the project to share knowledge with others working with seniors and to provide more opportunities for older adults across BC. Healthcare professionals involved in elder care and artists working in other community-engaged arts practices are both part of the project's professional Community of Practice, but the project is innovative in its focus on professionally led community-engaged arts programming for vulnerable seniors with a focus on positive health outcomes.
This Entry is about (Issues)
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
In March 2005 the Canadian Forum on Arts and Health was held in Vancouver. Discussions revealed that many Canadians are not aware of the health benefits of the arts in later life, and there is little research activity that studies the link between arts & health.
Conclusions agreed about the links between the arts and health included:
* “arts and creativity promote a sense of control and empowerment in people”
* the arts facilitate human relations and connections
* “creativity is a need”
* “new understandings of the nature and the experience of illness are revealed through art”
* the arts help patients become active partners in their own care; and
* the arts are transformative and facilitate change.
Forum delegates representing Vancouver Coastal Health and the Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreations consulted with other seniors' serving organizations and The Arts, Health & Seniors Project was born!
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
The long term goal of the project is to facilitate strong and healthy communities that engage seniors as full and active participants in the arts, and that value the arts as a key contributor to the health of all people
The project strives to maintain and improve the well-being and health of vulnerable seniors through active, ongoing participation in community-based arts practices facilitated by professional artists from different arts disciplines
The expansion of the site delivery program and the development of on-line resource packages will support healthy aging and professional development across BC.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
The project has proven positive health outcomes for participating seniors and the participating seniors are passionate advocates for the project. The project has:
Successfully established six delivery sites with local organizational support
Engaged numerous vulnerable seniors, almost always with high degrees of satisfaction in their participation in the arts and the impacts on their health and well-being
Fostered and trained a group of professional artists from different arts disciplines committed to a community-arts practice with vulnerable seniors
Hosted an annual presentation of the arts work co-created by the seniors and the professional artists and arts interns
Demonstrated the positive impact of the work on the health and well-being of vulnerable seniors through research conducted by the School of Nursing at UBC
Attracted interest in the work from senior leaders in the recreation and health worlds in the Lower Mainland and beyond
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
The appointment of British Columbia Recreation & Parks Association as the project's new fiscal agent will facilitate the expansion of community-engaged arts programming for seniors across BC. The project plans to create two new programming sites each year for vulnerable seniors in Vancouver and across BC to begin a four year tenured mentorship that will include financial and professional support. At the end of the four year period it is anticipated that the direct impact of the programming will be recognized as very valuable in that community and each site will be willing and able to secure their own funding, while remaining professionally affiliated with the project and participating in the project community of practice.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
The project has been very sucessful to date. It has completed six years of program delivery and released a research report and executive summary that explains the positive health outcomes for seniors participating in the project. The expansion of the project depends on additional funding that will allow us to disseminate the knowledge gained during the first six years of the project and provide the progamming to more seniors in more locations in BC.The project is committed to securing additional ongoing sustainable funding through grant applications and corporate sponsorship submissions.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Contract two new project sites to begin program delivery in September 2013
contract two new lead artists to begin program delivery at the new sites in Septmeber 2013
coordinate & provide ongoing support to the six current project sites as they develop their individual sustainability plans
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
orientation of new sites and two lead artists in preparation for the beginning of programming in September 2013
complete the 7th year of program delivery at the six current A&H project sites
complete capacity building on-line resource package for organizations and artists interested in arts programming for seniors.
Tell us about your partnerships
British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association works as the project's fiscal agent. The Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreation and Vancouver Coastal Health are ongoing partners/funders and the seniors serving and arts organizations such as community centres in Vancouver and North Vancouver provide workshop space for A&H programming & other significant in-kind support; QMUNITY, provides registration and financial support; UBC School of Nursing led the research into links between arts & health in the first three years, provided ongoing consultation and professional affiliation.
Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?
Yes the project is targeting other communities of vulnerable or marginalized seniors across BC.The project is currently accepting "Letters of Interest" from potential site organizations who have a target community of vulnerable seniors they hope to serve with the A&H Project. The intent is to provide this sucessful progamming to more seniors and to expand the capacity of professionals working with seniors, which in turn will allow for greater opportunities for seniors to engage in community-engaged arts programming over time.
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
The project is well organized with annual planning schedules and reporting requirements that frame the project goals and measure annual outcomes. The success of the project is the result of the personal commitment and investment of energy of many inspired individuals who have witnessed the seniors' development over the six years of programming and heard their passionate testimonials.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
Building partnerships with community and arts organizations is a key strategy that the project. Recruiting experienced professional artists is also essential to the success of the project.To exand we also need additional financial investment that will allow us to reach a greater number of vulnerable seniors that the Arts & Health Research Report has proven promotes better health for older adults.