Updated: Jan 23
As many businesses, places of worship, recreational facilities, and other services closed to the public due to COVID 19, countless people were left without jobs, increased financial stress, lack of spiritual guidance, and loss of community connections. This pandemic affected all corners of society in which the older generations and people with various vulnerabilities began to experience the heavy burden of fear, anxiety, and loneliness.
No sooner had COVID 19 shut down ways for people to connect physically, than organisations stepped in with the innovation of internet technology to reach out to the diverse age populations through online chats and group video meetings. Society as a whole came to the timeless conclusion that if we are to move through the impact of lock-down and isolation, we need each other.
The Kerby Centre continued to reach out to the 55+ population by offering their normal in-person programs online through Zoom. I was contacted to lead their very first online Expressive Arts Series. What an awesome experience for both myself and the 55+ community!
It was definitely a learning curve for me and I had to adapt the Expressive Arts experience in such a way as to make it more accessible to those individuals who do not own oodles of art materials that I usually bring to a group session in person. As a result, I mainly focus on moving through the art modalities of visual art making - using materials that group members have in their own living spaces, - story telling and writing, body movement that takes into consideration the living space of each online participant, and lastly, music, comprised of objects that can be found around the home. For example, a bucket that can be used as a drum, a wooden spoon(s), an empty can, a cheese grater and pencil, and wind chimes, etc.
As the first online Expressive Arts session approached I became extremely nervous and scared. All of the "what if's?" flew around in my brain such as "what if: the technology doesn't work, no one can hear me, I trip over my words, stutter, or repeat myself too many times, the participants think it`s boring, the session is too short, too long, they don`t like the way I look, it seems too impersonal online, etc?"
At the closing of the first online session, all of my "what if's" were unfounded. Everyone was happy, deeply moved, honest, forthcoming, and most importantly, they felt connected to one another through the Expressive Art group online experience.