Guest Blog Post by Alex Dunn, Community Outreach Director, Michael Lisnow Respite Center
The Michael Lisnow Respite Center is a day program for adults with disabilities. Every Thursday is designated as “field trip day,” and, for the last year, one of our absolute favorite destinations has been The Boston Public Market. Since our program is located in the quiet suburb of Hopkinton, MA, the bustle of the market’s central location is an exciting change of pace for our individuals. The active yet warm ambience of the market combined with the aromas of so many foods is an ideal sensory experience for these adults, and we are always met with such hospitality, affection, and dignity from all the vendors, making the market a beacon of social inclusion.
After several trips to the market we discovered a shared affinity for art. Naturally, the two non-profits decided to team up and use the market wall space as a food-inspired art gallery, produced and curated by the adults with developmental disabilities from our center. The Respite Center’s success has always been dependent on the support of the community and local organizations like the Boston Public Market. The soon-to-be gallery space at the BPM, opening June 24th, is perhaps the biggest platform and opportunity for social integration that these artists have ever had. Both organizations are profoundly inspired to facilitate disability awareness in new ways and be part of an amazing social movement.
Michael Lisnow Respite Center and Hopkinton Center for the Arts
As a nonprofit organization, the Respite Center’s mission is to create a home away from home for children and adults with disabilities; a place that offers parents time off from the emotional and physical care needed by their children. The center’s adult day program prides itself on offering unique and specialized activities in order to enrich the various interests and skills of this population. Taking advantage of the Hopkinton Center for the Arts “community outreach initiative,” the center expanded its adult day program curriculum with a fine arts program.
Fine Arts Program
Many educators, doctors, and professionals concur that art therapy is a legitimate technique that can improve psychological health, physical well-being, and ultimately quality of life for many demographics. Additionally, this art program facilitates social integration and disability awareness. Indeed, this gallery allows adults with developmental disabilities to participate fully and meaningfully in their communities as valued members of society. The program uses the process of learning in an intimate setting to promote independence, confidence, and communication skills. Additionally, the focus on self-expression and self-exploration has been clinically shown to improve mood and to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, which are particularly common among this population.
The objective of the classes focuses primarily on the process of art, in which the artists participated in a site visit of the Boston Public Market for inspiration of a food-inspired gallery. The artists were independent in their selection of techniques and styles (pastels, paint, pen and ink) incorporated in their respective pieces. They focused on communication skills by asking the instructor for advice and assistance with techniques, but were self-reliant in the actual creation process.
This year’s fine arts program is currently funded by an individual donor. To find out more about the arts program or support the Michael Lisnow Respite Center please contact: