A wonderful group of passionate folks filling a unique need in our state. I have been honored to collaborate on a number of projects.
For the past two years, I have served as a Teaching Artist with the Creative Aging Network (CAN-NC). My area of expertise is drama and creative expression. I have worked with the residents at several local senior communities where I engage them in poetry creation and recitation, story creation, and movement and music. It is such a blessing that CAN-NC has embraced this population and provides participatory opportunities for the residents to experience the arts in many forms and mediums.
I remember how much the group at one of the sites enjoyed creating music the first time we worked with the brightly colored handbells. As each bell was played, I could see their reactions when they realized that they were actually playing a familiar tune---talk about cognitive awareness!! Some even began to sing along. The smiles on their faces when the last note was played, were priceless. On person said, “We’d like to do this again next time.” Several others agreed. The art of creating music (the universal language that speaks to all of us) together is a beautiful experience.
The Teaching Artists of the Creative Aging Network bring to older adults opportunities of creative expression that perhaps have become dormant over the years. It is personally gratifying to see that the re-igniting of their creativity is important to them and to see their faces when they complete a project or activity. I have truly enjoyed my affiliation with CAN-NC.
The Creative Aging Network provides an opportunity for older adults to be viewed as more than the typical stereotypes say they are. It opens doors for indiciduals to be able to express themselves artistically and is very beneficial for our community!
I have worked with the Creative Aging Network for the past 6 years. This organization has provided arts programming for Spring Arbor of Greensboro which is an assisted living community serving seniors in the Greensboro area. We do arts programs, clay classes, music and movement classes, chair dancing. mixed media arts, photography and the possibilities are endless! The provide quality instructors who truly let residents do what they are capable of. We love working with this agency! Lia Miller the Executive Director is creative, and wonderful to work with!
Working with the Creative Aging Network has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Being able to connect with people through art while they are in the last chapter of their life is both inspirational and eye opening. I look forward to each class that I can enrich someone’s life even for just an hour. Working with memory care individuals is exceptionally rewarding for me. Many of my residents were unable to direct themselves back to their own room, let alone remember my name, but they knew who I was and were so excited to see me each week knowing I was bringing them the opportunity to be creative and free. Being told each day that they are wrong and unable to be independent can be crippling, however when they are in the art classes they are never wrong. It is invigorating to watch and be apart of such a life changing program.
Creative Aging Network - NC is a wonderful agency that provides needed services to older adults in the state. Providing creative opportunities for the senior population, especially to those that are less fortunate brings fulfillment to so many. I am proud to be a part of this organization and will continue to sing it's praises. To see the smiles on the faces of those that have benefited from classes and other experiences with CAN-NC is proof enough that this agency brings joy to so many.
Being from High Point, when my sister and her husband were admitted to the hospital in Greensboro, I had no place to turn for help and advice. Fortunately, I had been attending a monthly gathering of a group called Cafe Mortal that was being held at Scuppernong Books downtown Greensboro. By attending these meetings, not only was I able to acquire the helpful information that I needed to navigate the ins and outs of helping my sister to handle her husband's eventual death, but I was surrounded by caring, informed people that helped me through those stressful days. Lia Miller and the Creative Aging Network has been a important part of establishing Cafe Mortal and keeping it going. I think that Cafe Mortal is one of CAN's most important community out reach activities. Conversations about "end of life" issues are so important and are needed,now, more than ever. Because of Lia and others in the community, Greensboro is leading the way.
I had recently been restructured out of a job and was looking for a place to volunteer where I could be useful. I found CAN-NC on line and went to their office to meet the Executive Director. She immediately put me to work preparing art materials for one of the projects they were working on. It was great fun and I painted the backgrounds for what would later become art work from CAN-NC participants. I continue to find out more things about CAN-NC and continue to be amazed at the number of projects they work on at any given time. Recently I was a "helper" at a long term memory care facility that was part of the ARTmail project (a research project in conjunction with UNCG to assess the affect of art on those with alzheimers) There was varying degrees of engagement and some appeared to have some experience as painters, others no experience. Working together on their own paintings at round tables together created conversations among a few of the women, one reminisced about how she and her husband used to paint around their home. She was pleased to be creating her own work of art. CAN-NC does such a variety of art projects with seniors that it is hard to keep up with all that is being done. From paper book making with elder immigrants to movie making with senior LGBT folks, to doll making, to poetry writing (and a reading at a coffee shop, very powerful) CAN-NC is doing alot to enhance the aging process of seniors in NC. As a baby boomer myself and an amateur painter I know that art is good for the brain. Our population is aging. North Carolina is a retirement destination for many. No one should be sitting in a rocking chair waiting for the end to come when there is visual art, dance/movement and music to make! I almost forgot. I hosted a few art parties as fundraisers for CAN-NC. We learned how to do felting at one of them and i gave mine away as a Christmas present, we learned how to make tree ornaments and made kiln-less pottery. All great fun while raising money for a good organization!
I would like to take this time to commend our wonderful Executive Director, Lia C.G. Miller, on her great work, vision and efforts with the Creative Aging Network of North Carolina (CAN-NC). In spite of the economic times that our nonprofits are facing currently, I believe that we are also in a time where those nonprofits that are both organized, strategic, and accountable, will continue to flourish by looking continuously at how to improve operations, programming, and increase financial support. It is my opinion that our organization is among the caliber of many other great emerging nonprofits within the State of North Carolina through the leadership of our fine Board, Ambassadors, Advisors and Staff. I am truly honored to be apart of such a great movement by the work that we are doing here in North Carolina!