Above: Hannah takes a moment to enjoy a sunny beach day outing while at Creative Connections. Since joining Creative Connections, Hannah is flourishing.
Can you remember what it was like when you or your children turned the magical age of 20? Life opened up. There was the discovery of independence, and everything changed. In your early 20s, life is filled with possibilities.
A few years ago, our family was discovering that the path forward for our daughter, Hannah, was not as forthcoming as her younger sisters. For some people, independence looks very different from the average model. As Hannah’s sisters branched out, developed different friend groups, and began searching for career paths, Hannah felt a little stuck. Indeed, she was: being an adult with cognitive delays makes her a very unique individual. Not all open doors were a good fit. It was a difficult time for me as her mom, watching her experience of being left behind, not knowing when it would be her time. There wasn’t much I could do to help her.
We examined many programs for adults with intellectual disabilities, but none of them were for Hannah. We prayed that God would open the right doors and make a place for her to blossom.
Then we heard about Creative Connections, the art program run by L’Arche Saint John. The more we heard about Creative Connections, the more we began to hope that this was it – and lo and behold, it was.
I cannot begin to describe what it meant for Hannah and our family when we found L’Arche and Creative Connections, but I will try.
The first day that Hannah and I dropped into the studio, I knew it was the perfect fit for Hannah. It is the place where she can express herself, and develop a supportive friend group of her own.
Hannah is growing in confidence and independence. She was over the moon when one of her art pieces sold, and her design was featured in the Creative Connections holiday card packs last year. Hannah has built a group of friends who have been there for her during difficult times, including COVID-19 lockdowns, shared birthday wishes and celebrations. Her friends grieved with her over the death of her beloved puppy, and rejoiced with her when a new puppy joined our family. I no longer worry about where Hannah “fits”, or have to see her feeling left behind, because she isn’t.
Thanks to Creative Connections, and the support from Gray, the Program Leader, Hannah is flourishing.
When COVID-19 began complicating everyone’s lives, we knew that many of the fundraising events that Creative Connections relied on, such as their annual art show at the Saint John Arts Centre, could not be held. I have given donations of art supplies, but I was always looking for something else I could do to help support Creative Connections since their usual fundraising events were canceled due to COVID-19. When we learned about the option to set up a monthly donation to L’Arche Saint John, there was no question that that was something we wanted to do. We are so happy to be able to be a part of, and support, this amazing program.
One of the greatest wishes as a parent is for your child to find a sense of belonging, and I am so thrilled that Hannah has found hers at Creative Connections.
Parent of Creative Connections artist, Hannah Clark, and monthly supporter