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Creative Aging: Mesa Arts Center Fills a Community Need

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Jan 17, 2012
Mesa, AZ
SWT

Mesa Arts Center's pilot Creative Aging Program is helping to increase older adult sense of engagement --and having a positive impact on student dancers from Arizona State University. Two teaching artists led the eight-week pilot program, which was held at three Mesa facilities. Rob Shultz, assistant director of education and visual arts, reports in a recent ArtsBlog that the local arts agency's program met its goal of improving older adult's sense of engagement and creative expression through movement, story, dance and artmaking.

The executive director of one of the senior centers where the program was offered notes: “These folks perked up and become much more aware of their surroundings and interacted with others, and stayed that way long after the workshop was over.”

Mesa's Creative Aging Program also met an unexpected outcome of fostering the growth of student dancers from Arizona State University who assisted the program. "[They] came in somewhat self-conscious and unsure of their own abilities," says Schultz, "until they worked with the seniors who told them how beautifully they danced and how talented they really were. The students slowly absorbed this feedback, and Elizabeth [one of our teaching artists] could see how the [students'] own dancing changed and matured by the project’s conclusion."

Mesa Arts Center is ready to make the Creative Aging Program a permanent part of the Center's services to the community, says Shultz. "The Creative Aging Program is small, only a very slight percentage of our center’s comprehensive menu of arts programs and activities. Yet, little else we offer has an impact more powerful, more personal, and more poignant."

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