The Impact of Creative Connections on Community Health
Tapping into your creative side is great for your mental health and well-being. Painting, knitting, drawing, or crafting helps you unwind after a busy work day and takes your mind away from life’s stresses and strains.
Creativity can also boost the health and well-being of your community. Research shows that communities that come together and forge creative connections have better health outcomes and greater resilience in the face of challenges.
As a creative, you can lead the charge by hosting creativity-inspired workshops that alleviate isolation and build multigenerational support systems.
Loneliness is becoming more common across the nation. Research from Harvard University shows that 36% of all Americans feel “seriously lonely.” This may be due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, which weakened social bonds and left some folks feeling anxious and isolated from their peers.
Unfortunately, folks who have been isolated for some time may have lost their social skills and could be worried about entering a busy or crowded environment.
Low-stakes creative events and workshops can alleviate the fear that some people may feel. Knitting clubs, painting workshops, or photography classes can help people form creative connections and give people a sense of purpose when they arrive. Attendees can focus on the task at hand if they are worried about social mingling and can slowly come out of their shells over time.
Creative clubs are particularly beneficial for young people and students. Many students move thousands of miles to attend a new university and find it difficult to form social bonds. Student clubs can help young people network and gain a diverse group of friends.
Cross-generational Support Systems
Community-based creative events attract participants from all ages and demographics. This can help you support the health and mental well-being of older people in your area, and give retirees a renewed sense of purpose.
Creative events like art clubs and sewing can help older adults make new friends and share their experiences. This can promote greater health and well-being amongst older adults, as socializing and working on creative projects can improve attendees’ moods and reduce the risk of chronic conditions like dementia.
It’s never too late for older folks to tap into their creative side, but some accommodations should be made to support older adults. Try to manage attendees’ expectations and put the focus on having a good time rather than the quality of their output. Provide healthy snacks like fruits and veggies and give everyone clear direction to help focus their attention.
Working on creative projects is great for your health and well-being. You can pass these benefits on to folks in your community by hosting workshops and community events. Being creative can boost attendees’ mental health and reduce symptoms of conditions like:
Crafting can also improve attendees’ self-esteem and help them rebound after a challenge. At its best, art can be used to reflect on dark times and help folks come out on the other side with greater self-awareness and higher confidence.
You can maximize the impact of your event by working with art therapists in your area. Art therapists are licensed mental health providers and know how to guide large groups through activities that encourage reflection and happiness in a supportive environment.
You can find art therapists through the American Art Therapy Association directory. Local hospitals and clinics may also have further information to help you find an art therapist that aligns with your goals.
Workshops and Community Fundraising
When planning a creative community event, try to choose an activity that can be completed in a few hours and is appropriate for beginners. More complex pastimes like sewing and knitting are good options if you want to hold weekly meetings, but may not be appropriate for one-off events. Instead, consider creative events like:
- Pottery Painting;
- Boho Planters;
- DIY Coasters;
These crafting projects can be completed in a few hours and typically require few resources. If you’re running on a tight budget, consider fundraising for your event. Local businesses will be keen to support community-building efforts and can contribute funds or materials for your event.
You can also invite local artists to attend your craft event and bring some of their wares. Many local artists will be more than happy to donate some of their proceeds to a good cause and will be excited to work collaboratively with a roomful of engaged participants. Just be sure to agree on expectations before the event begins to ensure that you’re on the same page.
Coming together to share your love of creativity and crafting is a great way to build connections and alleviate loneliness in your community. Plan workshops with simple, highly rewarding crafting activities and reach out to local artists for extra support. If you really want to make an impact, consider working with an art therapist who can help your community navigate its challenges in a safe and supportive environment.