Creative Tools for Personal Empowerment
By Rachel Miller
By Alesha Damerville
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Scientific research has shown that expressing yourself through art offers several benefits to your mental health. In this current state of the unknown, everyone could use a coping mechanism. What if you were offered the opportunity to destress with the aid of both the arts and mental health professionals? What if you were offered that opportunity for free?
According to a study from the National Center for Educational Statistics, 40% of adults in the U.S. are interesting in furthering their education, the big hold-back for many being the cost of enrolling in non-credit college courses.
In the Yampa Valley community, Steamboat Creates has designed a series of classes inspiring personal growth, both intellectually and creatively.
“Pivot Point” is a healing arts program launching multi-week classes beginning Monday, July 6. It is a free collaboration between Steamboat Creates and mental health professionals within Northwest Colorado, made possible because of the Arts in Society grant.
The program was initially scheduled to start in the fall and focus on survivors of sexual assault, their families and caregivers. When the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, Steamboat Creates realized it would be beneficial to pivot the focus of this program and deliver it immediately.
“We fast-tracked it. We spoke with Arts in Society, who were super supportive of the shift,” says Sylvie Piquet, program director and facilities manager for Steamboat Creates. “The goal is for anyone who joins our Zoom sessions to foster a sense of community and interaction around creative projects.”
Varying creative minds and mental health professionals within the community have collaborated in designing these programs to aid others in discovering a sense of calm, relief or empowerment no matter what they’re going through.
“It offers the opportunity for people to see these mental health professionals in a different light,” Piquet says. “We want people to recognize that it doesn’t have to be a more traditional talk therapy if that’s not something someone is attracted to. There are different ways to interact with mental health professionals and different ways of finding these coping skills and strengthening our toolbox to feel better regardless of the circumstance.”
From late-April to late-June, Steamboat Creates offered weekly drop-in sessions on Zoom, allowing for anonymously asked questions through the comment section. These classes were helpful, but Steamboat Creates noticed there could be more.
“One challenge there was is it introduced attendees to the mental health professional but didn’t give much in interaction beyond that class,” Piquet says. Steamboat Creates began offering resources for mental health in the Yampa Valley and Northwest Colorado and the contact information of mental health professionals.
Steamboat Creates is excited to offer those wanting to dive a little deeper into this concept with the introduction of their “intensives,” a series of themed classes with specific artists and mental health professionals which are also free but require registration.
Steamboat Creates’ Dagny McKinley is also offering a six-week expressive writing class. This program provides a life-long foundation for exploring and releasing stress and grief through expressive writing.
Scott Goodhart is offering a four-week expressive dance class. Dancing releases endorphins that help the body reduce stress. Expressive movement helps you connect with your true self and allows you to work through emotions with movement.
Suzy Holloran and Jo Anne Grace are teaching an abbreviated three-week mandala and art journaling class. Art journaling helps you plan or envision goals, further develops creativity and
provides you with reducing your heart rate, increasing serotonin flow and decreasing stress responses.
There will also be a four-week Sonic Arts TANK mind class led by Sonic guides Samantha Wade, Michael Van Wagoner and Julie Noyes from a world-class sonic resource and recording venue. The TANK and Steamboat Creates collaborated to provide the opportunity for participants in the Yampa Valley to take advantage of their facilities and the techniques of sound arts to help people heal, be present and process.
Through the encouragement of Arts in Society, Steamboat Creates recently applied for a second grant to support this program through the fall.
The intensives begin Monday, July 6 and the classes will be offered at different times for those interested in participating in multiple classes. For more information visit www.SteamboatCreates.org