Sitting in the waiting room, while her son Kobe participated in Art in Music, Tonya M. chatted with me about her son, the joy he gets from his work here at AMA, and what she sees in the future.
They have been coming for two years having learned about AMA after Ms. Megan Hall came into Kobe’s school to teach one of their Awakening Minds sessions. Tonya says she is impressed that Kobe, who was born with Down’s Syndrome, does the art, not a teacher holding his hand. He actually focuses on the task at hand. “Kobe is really into painting and it is very calming for him.”
She initially brought him to class to have other activities beyond school and to get additional support for herself. Tonya is a retired Findlay police officer but “Nothing prepared me for the challenges of rising Kobe. Every day is different, and I am totally relearning parenting after raising two older boys. Some days I feel like I am floundering.” She is watching and learning new coping mechanisms and tactics from watching AMA instructors work with her son. It is here Kobe can interact with peers like himself and learn appropriate behaviors from typical peers. Both Tonya and Kobe learn keywords that trigger POSITIVE behaviors.
Tonya enjoys the break while Kobe is in class and she looks forward to time with other moms, who are understanding adults, in similar situations. “They get it.”
She is excited about the new building as it will provide much more room for one on one private classes. Also, a relief is that there will be a locked security check-in point and the children are secure. “Kobe is a runner and we must watch him closely if he is near a door. I will feel much safer in the new building.”
On any typical day at Awakening Minds Art, you will find parents, students, teachers all engaged in one purpose, to expand the horizons for the individuals who often have learning or developmental disabilities. The focus is not to just teach a person to paint. It is to learn patience, creativity, sensory recognition and behaviors that carry into other facets of life. The instructors are professional, possess skills through education and driven by love and passion for the students.
Today, at the Findlay studio, there is a combined therapy activity that has Amy Foley of Heartstrings Melodies teaching music as a therapy, the class is called "Art in Music". While Amy has the students rocking to guitar and tambourines, Ms. Megan, from Awakening Minds, is preparing to have the students explore creativity & their senses through art.
I caught up with two moms in the waiting room as they chatted about kids, life and the challenges they face. Barb H. has brought her son Andrew to Awakening Minds Art for three years. She was seeking an outlet for sensory expression for her son. She was initially afraid how the teachers might respond if Andrew had a “meltdown” during a class. She felt very welcomed and comfortable. She was relieved that it was a one on one scenario with student and instructor. “It was a very happy place.” Instructor Ms. Megan was patient, and in control, not allowing Andrew’s behaviors to derail the class. Instead she gently controlled the behavior and led the focus and Andrew back on task.
Barb has seen Awakening Minds, and his school, work together to improve Andrew’s socialization skills, fine motor skills and his relationship between teachers and other students. At home, art is a calming reward and Andrew is becoming very proficient with sculpting.
“I get joy as Andrew grows and creates art. I watch him grow at each class. I even come to paint classes for my time to relax.” Barb mentioned.
"There are many things that I'm looking forward to and find exciting about the new building. One major concern I have always had with the current studio is the parking. I am ecstatic about AMA having parking available at the new building. I feel it will take a great amount of stress off the parents AND their kiddos." Barb says, clearly stressed about the situation.
Ms. Megan & Ms. Sarah notice the stress during every visit, not just in Barb, but in Andrew too. Andrew comes in with a heightened stress level from the parking situation not only because he knows his mom is frustrated, but he fears he's going to be late for his class. Keeping a schedule is extremely important to Andrew, and being late is unacceptable to him AND mom!
"Parking will provide an end to the 20 minute 'I-Spy a Parking Spot!' game that Andrew and I play to lighten the mood while hunting for a spot. Parking will not only make it better to access your car for the big art projects that need carried in and out of the studio, more importantly, it will provide a much safer 'in & out' of the studio for my child.
Next blog we meet Tonya M. and her son Kobe.
TO HELP AWAKENING MINDS ART CONTINUE PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN LIKE ANDREW, PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING TOWARDS THE AWAKENING MINDS ART CAPITAL CAMPAIGN!