A Dream Whose Time Has Come


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Academy for Creative and Healing Arts for People with Mental Health Challenges

I have a dream! It is to co-create a facility where people with mental health challenges can take part in an array of creative and expressive arts and healing modalities in the downtown core of Victoria. Creative expression is what makes our spirit soar. It is innately who we are; we are creative beings. We are born with the gift of imagination. Images and ideas spring seemingly from out of nowhere and there are no limits to where our imaginations can take us. Creativity is the opening for the human heart to meld pain and anguish and convert it into brilliant paintings, musical scores, landscaped gardens, outstanding novels, photographs, plays, sculptures and every other art form imaginable. Doing one’s art often transforms suffering into beauty. In doing so, it prevents a person from dying (too often literally) with their song still inside them. When we lose our impulse to create, something inside of us slowly begins to die. People living with mental health challenges often lose this part of them when their illness takes hold. Some never get it back because they have stopped believing in themselves or they don’t have someone in their lives to inspire and encourage them or somewhere to go where their innate gifts can be nurtured back to health.

Now imagine a Centre located in the heart of downtown Victoria, The Academy For Creative and Healing Arts, where people with mental health challenges are welcomed by trained staff (called “friends”) who are caring, respectful and encouraging and who foster the creative potential in every participant they work/play with. The Academy offers an array of art forms where each person’s gifts and talents are cultivated and nourished. Through this process, people’s lives are transformed. Through this process they move from mental “illness” to mental “health”. For the past two decades, I have watched therapy clients as well as students of my The Artist Way support groups and writing workshops transform themselves from depression and resignation to joy and self-respect through creative self-expression.

Ten years ago, after a clinical depression, I did the same when I used the processes that I had been teaching to create Madness, Masks and Miracles. Co-writing the play, writing the lyrics to the songs and playing the leading role brought me from a place of feeling powerless to a place of excitement and new found hope. The act of following my creative impulse to seeing the physical results of a dream that could make a difference on how mental illness is viewed in our society, in spite of the many challenges that accompanied it, was a wondrous achievement. That experience and for countless other reasons are why I believe that an exciting facility like The Academy for Creative and Healing Arts can change people’s lives dramatically.

Along with the many programmes in creative expression, there will also be an array of healing modalities of mind/body and spirit. Things such as tai chi, yoga, healing touch, massage and workshops on food for optimum health will be offered. There will be a quiet meditation room for people to simply “be” … somewhere to be contemplative, silent and still. The Centre has a natural foods cafe that will also host evening entertainment, an open mike and such. As well, there is an auditorium for staged productions and inspirational movies and talks. The vision goes on and on. Part of that vision includes a song. Yes, a song. Do you remember, the song, We Are The World, We Are The People? It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie in 1985 as a benefit for famine relief in Africa. That one song travelled across the globe and united people from all cultures in wondrous ways. It is my intention to have an original song written by a brilliant singer/songwriter who has challenges with his or her mental illness that is going to rock the world in the same way. Listening and watching the youtube video will illustrate the joy that burst forth when stigmas are shed and are replaced by kindness and love. The DVD will be sold to raise money for the academy. Although we will need substantial funding, I know it is possible–I know inside of me that there will be countless sponsors for this kind of project and there are some fabulous fundraising activities already planned. The dream is endless … And together we can make it happen. One person at a time. With the Grace of God, with inspired commitment by other visionaries who hold this dream in their heart and working together, we can’t help but be successful!

YES, THIS IS A DREAM WHOSE TIME HAS COME. To receive information about Madness, Masks and Miracles and the Academy for Creative and Healing Arts, please subscribe to our mailing list below.

REQUESTING VOLUNTEERS We are looking for enthusiastic people to volunteer their love, time and talents to help make this phenomenal grass roots project soar! The Academy is taking on a life of its own and as such, we need a group of dedicated volunteers, who feel as I do, that The Academy of Creative and Healing Arts is beyond a doubt, A Dream whose Time Has Come, and you feel called to be part of it. If this describes you, we would be delighted to hear from you. Send an email to June at junieswadron@hotmail.ca and in the subject line write, “I’m interested in volunteering for The Academy and would like further information. Please leave your name and contact information where you can be reached.

“Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity”.

Julia Cameron

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