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Community Impact

Art show demonstrates the value of therapeutic recreation

More than 90 percent of clients report lower levels of anxiety after working on projects.

Rosecrance residential clients devote the winter months to a series of thought-provoking art projects that debut in grand fashion at the Heart Art Show each February, where hundreds of pieces are displayed to clients and staff.

This annual event celebrates creativity and highlights the importance of art as a proven tool for the recovery journey. A range of studies in recent years have shown that art is effective for reducing the severity of anxiety and trauma symptoms. In addition, it is effective for coping with many of the pandemic’s effects—isolation, grief, and life disruptions. At Rosecrance, more than 90 percent of clients report lower levels of anxiety after working on projects.

“Art is great because you’re able to express yourself in a way that doesn’t happen with everyday language,” said recreation therapist Paul Fasano. “This truly is you expressing yourself because you choose everything from the color, to the style and medium. And, when you start building bridges to creativity, it allows healing to happen.”

This year’s shows at the Rosecrance Griffin Williamson and Harrison Campuses in Rockford and Rosecrance Central Illinois will feature hundreds of pieces in 10 exhibits, including staff art. Among these will be group and interactive projects. In addition, a Rosecrance alumnus will complete a live art project and share his recovery journey. Exhibits will also include educational displays about black artists in honor of Black History Month.

Many of these pieces will focus on recovery themes—self-acceptance, peace, gratitude, and other values. For clients who discover, or rediscover, an interest in art, the creative process can become a lifelong hobby and coping tool. That is why Rosecrance’s therapeutic recreation staff expose clients to a wide range of activities, such as sports, meditation and mindfulness, hiking, music, and equine therapy.

“I love watching someone in treatment discover the life skills in these therapies and find one that truly interests them,” Fasano said. “This creates a healthy means of expression, and it helps them find community after they leave our care. When surrounded by others who share the same passions, they recognize that they are not alone, no matter their interest or stage in life.”

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