H’art Accessible Arts Program
“The highlight of the program was applying all that I had learned to produce an acrylic on canvas painting of a vase filled with flowers”
Since its inception, the generosity of donors has enabled Community Foundation for Kingston & Area Community Grants Program to award grants to projects that fall within its fields of interest such as recreation, health and social services, community development, arts and culture. Whether the amount is large or small, the Foundation’s community grants play a key role in enhancing the quality of life for residents of our community in partnership with local charitable organizations. A recent grant to H’art Centre exemplifies this synergy.
H’art Centre received a $10,000 Community grant from the Foundation in May 2017 to fund HAAP!, a six-month outreach project to offer arts programming to seniors who live in Fairmount, Providence Manor and Rideaucrest. HAAP! was built on Young at H’art, an earlier project which brought seniors with disabilities to H’art Centre for onsite classes in different arts disciplines. While this innovative program was successful, transportation issues led to the decision to bring arts programming to seniors in local long-term care homes. That is where the Foundation’s community grant came into play.
Artist instructors brought a professional background in one of the arts, such as dance (seated), storytelling, visual arts, textiles and music. Following specialized training for both instructors and volunteers, they visited the homes several times a week between May and December 2017 to bring meaningful arts-based programming to residents. In addition to encouraging artistic expression, the project also addressed the isolation experienced by some seniors with disabilities. “The highlight of the program was applying all that I had learned to produce an acrylic on canvas painting of a vase filled with flowers. It now hangs in my room”, said one participant.
Creative use of space facilitated delivery of the program and also reduced the need for portering residents to different locations within the homes. One participant expressed her enthusiasm for HAAP! by eagerly greeting the instructor with the words, “What are we going to do today?”.
Quality outreach by professional artists and volunteers with accessible arts training is now being seen for its potential to provide valuable community support to front line long-term care staff as they work to meet the growing and more complex needs of our aging population.
H’art Centre has now embarked on the next phase of HAAP!, building on lessons learned from the outreach phase of this project. They plan to partner with long term care homes to ensure ongoing sustainability of the program, heighten staff awareness of the benefits of the project, recruit more artists and volunteers, offer more intensive training to artists and volunteers and work with post-secondary institutions to develop quality field placements.
Katherine Porter, Executive Director, believes that H’art Centre is now well-positioned to “model meaningful, accessible community-driven arts programming for other long-term care homes across Ontario through HAAP!”
Pictured above – A Fairmount resident