Cherie McDowall loves it when the neighbouring SPCA Op Shop drops off items for her at Enrich+’s Taumarunui office in The Arcade.
Things like old cups, plates, buttons and clothes become a blank canvas for her Supported Activities clients.
“Most of it has a purpose – so that means we might take something old and give it a new life,” says Cherie, a community facilitator with Enrich+.
Transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.
She supports those aged between 16 and 64 years old who have a disability or disabilities or a health condition that could prevent them feeling included in society and unable to participate in community activities.
Art therapy workshops are a big part of what her clients do. It is in those workshops where she encourages and develops their sense of creativity through one on one work.
This includes providing themed and purposeful art techniques to produce a visual interpretation of self-awareness and transition, always with therapy in mind.
She supports her clients to develop their talents, connections and their everyday skills so they can live a life like any other.
“The Art Therapy sessions offer an alternate option to express and process their feelings and make sense of the subconscious thought,” says Cherie.
Themes become important. For example, her clients are currently working on a Matariki project.
“We’re giving thanks to the sea. One of the things we are doing is making jellyfish out of old lanterns. The base is a lantern, it’s all about altered art,” says Cherie.
“Give them buttons, paint or anything, provide some direction on how they might decide to use them and they love it. They’re off,” she says.
Participating in community events is an important part of what she and her clients do. Things like the Christmas Tree Festival, Wearable Arts, Anzac Day and more recently supporting the Ukraine.
And the community loves nothing more than wandering through The Arcade to have a look in the window at the displays to see what her clients have produced.
“The little Akoranga always want to come down and have a look,” says Cherie.
“It is such a rewarding job. With Art therapy, you see a different side to each person. They can explore their own creativity and it is my job to help them find more of what is inside them that they may never have pursued before.”