Art therapist Evelyn Pelayo talks about human connection through the power of art and introduces her new art group Inside Out.
In celebration of Learning Disability Week 2021, we invited art therapist Evelyn Pelayo to talk about this year’s theme: arts and creativity. We first met Evelyn in 2019, when she was running an arts festival for adults with learning disabilities. Since then, she has worked with some of the people we support, using art therapy to connect and express difficult emotions.
“As we emerge from a third lockdown, we are still some way off from how things used to be. The ongoing restrictions have been challenging, and many of the community services that people rely on have become limited or stopped working altogether.
Having a predictable routine can be important to people we support. This prolonged period of uncertainty, not knowing when friends can be seen or when favourite places can be visited, has created unnecessary extra stress. It’s now important to consider how we can support this, and the other losses experienced over the past year.
How art can help
The creative arts play a unique role in supporting people with learning disabilities as they can be adapted to the needs and abilities of individuals. We know that for some people thoughts and feelings can be difficult to put into words. Non-verbal approaches like art, music and dance can ease and promote communication about difficult topics and emotions; sometimes drawing or making is easier than speaking our minds.
Engaging in regular creative activities can also:
- promote essential social interaction with others
- add structure and a sense of purpose to a person’s week
- be relaxing and reduce anxiety
- give opportunities for positive achievements and learning
- help improve self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-expression.
Graham is the artist pictured above, he says: “I like thinking about what I look like, and it came out a bit like a police identikit”.
Inside Out is a new series of art groups that are facilitated by experienced Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered arts therapists. We provide accessible and inclusive arts workshops where participants can explore their emotions while forming part of a supportive community. Our service is primarily aimed at learning disabled adults and focuses on those who have been isolated and/or have had limited resources and support throughout the pandemic.”
If someone you support would like to join an online Inside Out art group, please visit EventBrite to book a place.