Therapeutic Center Offers Arts Opportunities to Less Fortunate Adults / Gracie Lee

The Wood Activity and Therapeutic Center at 111 Clinton Boulevard has been the location of exercise classes, music making, and art daytime programs since 2013. It serves as a therapeutic center for individuals over 50 years old, and others over six with developmental, physical, or cognitive disabilities. According to their website, their motivation is the “purposeful use of recreation services and activities to meet the needs of individuals in six domains: physical, social, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and leisure functioning.”

         Chandra Broomfield, who has been leading art and recreation programs since 2007, came to the 52-year-old building to work in 2013 and began leading monthly art classes. The first art exhibit began a year later in 2014. This year’s annual show began Tuesday, Sep. 7, and runs to the end of the month. Broomfield witnesses a variety of submissions from the program’s art class attendees. “A lot of them were artists in their day, but they say they’re not anymore,” she said. “It’s mostly paintings, but some do cross stitch, or quilts or ceramics. We never know what we’re going to have.” 

Broomfield, who has always loved art, had her first experience helping those with disabilities in a high school art class. “My teacher would allow me to go to the special needs class down the hall and bring someone into the class and I would work with that person.” What brought her to start the art shows was a different experience. “It was kind of selfish in a way,” she laughed. “I do them [paintings] one day and then I put them in a closet and never look at them again. I knew a lot of seniors were like me. At first it was a way for them to appreciate their work, and so they could be with other people and see their progress.” Broomfield believes that there is no such thing as bad art. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve had experience before. You can still make something that’s worth looking at.”

Her certification in Therapeutic Recreation, held by only 15,000 people worldwide, has equipped her to appreciate what the attendees of the center’s classes have gone through, and prepare them for their absolute potential. “I love the fact that we get people who come isolated. They may come in by themselves and then after the first time they’re going to lunch together. That’s what I enjoy most–to see the attitude change.”

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