So up until now, I’ve talked a lot about the plans for my handicap accessible build and broke down the financial impact as well as my plans in blogs PART 1 and PART 2. I’ve done this for a variety of reasons. I wanted to be completely open and transparent about this dream/goal of mine. I want to bring my supporters IN and let them see this project from the very beginning. And I wanted to build up to today’s post – the bigger picture.
Yes – this handicap accessible studio is for me, so I can create in an environment suited for my specific disabilities and needs… But it’s also for the community..MY community. My drive to help others find the same catharsis in creating is what’s fueling this fire… let me explain how and why…
I am a HUGE advocate for the idea that engaging in a creative outlet can be incredibly impactful and beneficial to a person’s well being. From emotional health, psychological to physical – there are numerous health benefits the ACT of creating can have on an individual regardless of their level of physical or artistic ability. This idea of utilizing creative outlets as part of a treatment/self-care plan is not new. It’s been around for 50+ years, which I’ll get into a bit later. But I know from my own personal experience and my experience from teaching art classes at the Travis Mills Foundation... that MORE people need to have the ability to experience this for themselves. They need a place that is accessible and can easily accommodate a variety of disabilities.
And that’s where my dream of my handicap accessible studio became a goal and something I WILL achieve. I realized that the people in my community NEED an environment like I do. Waldo County, Maine has a population comprised of 11% Veterans, about 5-6% who identify/report having a disability, and another 5-6% of elderly over 65 who live alone. That’s roughly 22-24% of my county’s population who would most benefit from my art as therapy classes. Not to mention the REST of my community because let’s be real – creating is just plain ole fun for everyone if you are able to find that creative outlet that speaks to YOU.
My own disabilities make it difficult for me to go elsewhere to teach these classes because a lot of the local facilities are in historic buildings, are not ADA compliant, lack appropriate climate control for folks like me who have difficulty regulating their body temperature… So out of necessity a dream was born. Out of seeing a need and an opportunity, a goal/plan was developed.
The Bigger Picture
I bet you’re saying to yourself, “Okay Shawna…that’s all well and good…but what IS the bigger picture???” . Well now that I’ve laid out the back story about the why… THIS my friends is the bigger picture:
- To offer art classes, art as therapy classes, adpative classes, etc to the members of my community who can most benefit.
- To establish a scholarship for families who could really benefit from these types of classes but may not be able to afford it. I firmly believe art and art classes should be accessible for all!
- To establish themed days at least once a month for the introverts and those who feel alone to come and gather in a place that they feel welcome in. My studio will be a place full of joy and will help make those connections to combat loneliness that comes with growing older and/or being disabled.
- Establish open studio days that are for people to come in and just create. No instruction, but to be able to offer the facilities for people to come and immerse themselves in a creative outlet.
- Art classes for kids who are homeschooled where I am able to provide a place to foster that social interaction.
- Establish sensory friendly classes geared for children and adults with senssory sensitivities.
- To “teach the teachers” how to make their classroom accessible by teaching them how to create adaptive tools without having to invest in the costly adaptive equipment.
Essentially…the bigger picture is just to HELP PEOPLE. I have always been a nurturer, a caretaker of others… That’s largely why I became a combat medic in the army and why I volunteer my time and services to teach my art classes at the Travis Mills Foundation at every retreat. Because I LOVE helping people. And this handicap accessible studio will enable me to further that outreach.
How You Can Help
If this project…this dream of mine… is something you can get behind… is something you want to support… there’s a few different ways you can do that.
Or you can check out my members-only subscription group and see which monthly pledge level fits your budget best.
You can also share this blog post. One never knows who would want to participate in this journey of mine.
I hope I’ve answered some of the questions I’ve been getting about my WHY when it comes to this goal/dream of building an accessible studio. It’s always been about the bigger picture. I just haven’t been vocalizing that well enough.
Shawna is a ceramic sculptor and mixed media artist who loves sharing her passion with others. She is a teaching artist and a strong advocate for the arts being accessible to all. To support her endeavors, consider subscribing to her members-only group! There are a variety of subscription levels starting at just $5/mo