Arts & Health: Healthy Aging Through the Arts is a working collaboration of seniors and Elders and professional artists, who together develop an arts practice that focuses on the creative expression of ideas and issues that are important to them. The project provides a forum for expression and communication, exploration and imagination, which in turn fosters a sense of well-being and belonging.
The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and Vancouver Coastal Health partner with other organizations and associations with close ties to the community and with mandates focused on health, community recreation, and/or art participation to deliver this community engaged art programming for seniors.
Arts & Health addresses the current gap in seniors’ services between those for well older adults and those for frail seniors who are in care. It provides professionally led arts programming for vulnerable seniors in community and seniors’ centres.
The intended long-term outcome of this project is “strong, healthy communities that engage seniors as full and active participants and that value the arts as a key contributor to health.”
Seniors are the largest growing sector of the population. Arts & Health addresses many current issues for seniors:
- Health practitioners across North America recognize the need for new models of care.
- Our population is aging and marginalization is increasing amongst the elderly.
- Current approaches to recreation are expanding to enrich and support seniors’ wellness.
- Research demonstrates strong links between participation in the arts and health.
The Goals of Arts and Health
In order to create a healthier aging population, Arts and Health aims to:
- Provide support for seniors dealing with marginalization or conditions of vulnerability
- Maintain, and/or improve the health and well-being of vulnerable seniors through their participation in community engaged arts practices
- Create a supportive environment for community engaged arts practices and increase their use within health environments and centres for community programming
- Demonstrate the positive impact of participants in arts-based activities on the health and well-being of communities
Community of Practice
The Arts & Health Community of Practice provides professional development opportunities for the staff team of artists, senior’s workers and program managers who meet regularly to share and analyze their work. These collegial meetings are an important support for the individuals, each working at different project sites with different senior groups. Occasional workshops focus on ideas and issues important to the staff team and facilitate capacity building opportunities for all of us and other professionals interested in community-engaged arts practice with seniors.