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News & Press: Member News

NYSOTA Member Kelly Spear is Healing by Brushstroke

Wednesday, July 18, 2018  
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Member Spotlight: Kelly Spears

We are excited to share NYSOTA member Kelly Spear's story about "Project Pride" and the healing power of art and teamwork at the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center.


Healing by Brushstroke
by Kelly Spears, BS, COTA/L II

"Project Pride" is a facility-wide beautification project that is affording persons with mental illness an opportunity to heal as they create. Its focus is to increase a patient's self-esteem, self-worth, and a feeling of accomplishment through self-expression while effectively working together on a team.

Patients worked together on project themes, completing sketches before starting on the wall. This particular mural (pictured at right) is located in a quiet room in the treatment activity center, where the majority of patient programming occurs. Watching this mural unfold from paper to completion was nothing short of magical. As I was gifted the task of facilitating this project, I was afforded the opportunity to see firsthand the endless benefits this project gave to participants. They started timid, unaware of their own potential. As each week passed, they could visibly see just how capable they are, and their belief in themselves grew.

One patient on the team wrote this poem, highlighting how she sees the Quiet Room:

The Quiet Room
This is a place to go and relax.
It's when people push you to the max.
You relax and straighten yourself out.
You know what delusional is all about.
A bed to relax and let meds work.
Sometimes you can't even get a fork.
Sometime you should refresh and new.
Pray to God in all you say and do.
Hopefully your family are there for you.
Family should be there in all you do.
Friends are there gather yourself lucky.
We hope things work out all ducky.

My hope was for this feeling, this belief, to carry over in every facet of their lives, as I believe that everyone can start again - if only they believe they can. Since this is such a unique project, our team spoke about how our unveiling invitation should be. During the unveiling of the Quiet Room, patients were recognized for their dedication and commitment to the project.

Patients have since switched their focus to working on a large wall mural in the patient treatment activity center titled "Pathway to Recovery." And as our wall progresses, positive change is occurring - starting at our rainbow, which currently only has one color, but will be vibrant in time. As one continues on their path the tree becomes alive, overfilled with lush green leaves, green grass, flowers, and even a smiling squirrel. All signifying recovery, hope, and newness.

As the weeks pass and the patients begin to see their concept come to life on a very large canvas, I can see their pride growing, their excitement building over the anticipation of what this beautiful mural could mean to countless patients. I could not be more proud of the patients and of the outcomes this project has afforded them.

It is my continued hope that countless patients draw strength from this mural. I know the great pride the artists derived from coming up with the concept and bringing it to life.

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