Creativity is the new buzzword at Monarch’s day program at Vocational Options of Hoke County, as the site adds a new option to the familiar sheltered workshop model, emphasizing community involvement and the arts to engage people the agency supports.
Vocational Options, a day program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, recently invited Creative Abundance Group, Inc., specialists in experiential programming and community integration for those with developmental differences, to provide inspiration and direction for this new option.
While the people supported at the day program may still be involved in production tasks such as removing labels from bottles and sorting items, they now have the opportunity to engage in the creation of colorful works of art such as large hanging butterflies and entertaining finger puppets. The hanging butterflies they created recently span three to four feet and were a collaborative effort, with participants choosing whether they’d like to paint cloth for the wings, stitch, or wrap materials to form the frame. Common materials such as fabric, buttons and yarn were used to make the art.
“It has been wonderful to see this come to life,” said Bruce Hurst, program manager. “There is a strong sense of accomplishment for the people we support, and I’ve seen improvement in manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination as well as much more socialization and engagement. They are having so much fun that nobody even wants to take a break or go to lunch.”
Even before a controversy over people with disabilities earning less than minimum wage prompted a national review of sheltered workshop programs, Monarch had already developed a plan to eliminate subminimum wage contracts and move toward alternative community-based programs. The agency is in the process of including arts and community integration at all of its sites.
“This additional creative option places us in a better position to help the people we support become active and engaged in the community,” said Monarch Chief Operating Officer Jim Kelley, adding that the new plans include transforming space at the sites into galleries and art studios open to the public.
Established in 1958, Monarch is a not-for-profit organization that provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse challenges. The agency is nationally accredited by The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) and certified by The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as a Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency (CABHA). Monarch operates The Arc of Stanly County, which is a chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States. To learn more about how Monarch provides support, please call (866) 272-7826.
Media contact: Natasha A. Suber, (704) 986-1582 or [email protected]