Therapy for the Mind and Soul

A transformation is taking place. One both needed and welcomed. The interior of a building is being given new life.

Yes, the usual repairs, repainting, and refurbishing are in the works, but atop those necessary efforts, like the icing on the cake, Chandler Health & Rehab is adorning its walls with art created by its residents.

Joe Meadows, the administrator, who spends after work hours in his own painting studio, has brought canvas and acrylics and twice-weekly classes to any of the 135+ residents who choose to participate.

Assisted by the activities staff, a parade of wheelchairs, walkers and a few mobile bodies arrive in the sunny cafeteria/classroom and take their places behind tabletop easels. In the style of the popular Sips ‘n’ Strokes, which Meadows credits with reigniting his childhood interest in painting, each participant is encouraged to take brush to canvas in whatever way feels right to them.

Some choose to work to replicate the colorful sample prints provided, some paint objects remembered or translate personal memories and some enjoy making gift paintings for family members. Ms. Mary Conaway has taken a fancy to painting the generic trash basket found in each room and her little ‘cottage industry’ gets requests from the other residents.

The power of color and therapeutic expression  realized in these afternoons has energized the residents who have a wide spectrum of disabilities. Meadows, who takes a ‘no excuses’ position, reminds them that “I can’t” is not an acceptable option. The staff provides encouragement and assistance with mixing colors, when needed, and helps the painters ‘work through’ any inevitable frustrations that arise when ideas are being transferred from brain to hand to brush.

Those who are enthusiastic regulars include residents whose movements are limited by stroke or injuries from debilitating car accidents. Others have Down Syndrome; a few are vision impaired. Many suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s.

All are delighted to see their efforts now lining the halls in a gallery-like effect that captivates and amazes all visitors. If you would like to donate painting supplies for this on-going program, contact Anna Martin, Director of Activities at 205-663-3859. An evening art reception and open house in the nearby future will be open to the public.

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