People walking near the Salvation Army Paparella Arts Centre at the corner of King and Wellington Streets in downtown Hamilton. will see at art display in the windows of the former Bank building. The Salvation Army is celebrating the creativity of adults with developmental disabilities who designed the large vibrant posters on display.
The artists are part of the STRIVES Home peer support group for adults with disabilities at The Salvation Army Lawson Ministries in Hamilton.
In the summer of 2020, Lawson Ministries developed a Self-CARE project to support their clients during the pandemic. These individuals were given customized packages containing self-care items such as masks, baking ingredients, and game books. Art and journaling materials were also included so that these individuals, severely impacted by the pandemic’s restrictions, could share their thoughts and experiences with the Hamilton community they miss.
The Self-CARE packages, along with peer and Salvation Army staff encouragement, gave these individuals the tools to express themselves. The posters in the windows feature a selection of the art and writing created. The Self-CARE project was funded by The Hamilton Community Foundation and the United Way of Hamilton-Halton, and further supported by volunteer artists and students from McMaster University.
“COVID-19 has turned everyone’s world upside down. For the adults with developmental disabilities that Lawson Ministries supports, this is especially true,” said Lisa Schumph, the Director of Operations at Lawson Ministries. “Before the pandemic, many relied on the Salvation Army’s day programs to connect with friends, community, and employment. When these supports were suspended due to COVID-19, mental health declined as social isolation increased.”
One of the artists and program participants Cody Roberts spoke about his experience with the project. “The self-care project was motivational and encouraged me to share my message to the world so others may feel inspired by it. I felt like sharing my message might help people going through a dark time.”
Description of the display
“C” for Connect
The need to connect is strongly expressed in drawings by A.T. and M.B., (“Waiting for Friends to Call Me”) two adults with dual-diagnosis developmental disabilities.
“A” for Accept
A powerful pastel drawing of the coronavirus by D.K., who has Down’s Syndrome. This drawing expresses acceptance of the pandemic. A drawing and journal excerpt by D.T. acknowledges the need to adapt, as he writes: “I have kept up with my practice of Karate to maintain my physical and emotional wellness.”
“R” for Relate
Thoughts on relating to wellness and finding ways to cope with the reality of the pandemic are shared by J.W. and C.W. who write: “If you go out make sure you wear your mask while riding the bus.”
“E” for Explore
This expressive pastel drawing by M.D., who has Down’s Syndrome shares a welcome of colour during what has been a dark time, along with a message of self-care: “To stay well, I take my time to stop and smell the flowers I see on my walk.”