To help raise awareness about the value of the arts to people with disabilities or barriers to participation in the arts, we routinely invites post-secondary students to complete their field placement requirements at H’art Centre. This year, “routine” has had nothing to do with it.
Two Occupational Therapy students from the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University, Sabrina Leonard and Katy Palaic, stepped into their placement experience during an extraordinary time. We were responding to the shut down of on-site programming due to the pandemic and just starting to develop our virtual inclusive arts program when they arrived on the scene. A board member, Dr. Terry Krupa, had pointed out the limited amount of research into online inclusive arts programming delivery to people with developmental disabilities. So, Sabrina and Katy began studying our efforts so: we could learn from our experience, we could develop and share best practices, and we could lead in this area.
The two studied responses from a staff survey and reached out to H’art artists, caregivers, community artists, and volunteers to learn about their experiences in order to find out what we are doing well and what challenges remained. They conducted research into existing best practices, looked at what other organizations were attempting, observed our Zoom workshops, and led segments of workshops to get a feel for the online experience and software.
In the future, we will use their study to:
- Improve our virtual programming for H’art Studio artists;
- Inform future H’art Accessible Arts Program outreach;
- Share our findings with other organizations through our Able Artists series; and,
- Shape a new MixAbilities Inclusive Arts Training program module for new inclusive arts facilitators.
We’ve only just begun to understand the potential of this new tool for delivering inclusive arts in Kingston and beyond.