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View from the Inside Background

Background History

 The View from the Inside: Courage Journey workshop began over a cup of tea in downtown Calgary in 2014 when mutual colleagues brought them together. Wendy and Allan decided to use the power of symbol and metaphor on a mask- body puppet to explore stories of mental health and wellness.

 

The program has had remarkable resonance, with participants, media and funders. The subtitle “Courage Journey” evolved as the most frequently used words to describe the program.

The four-phase project had participants creating the front of the mask to express the face they show the world, the inside of the mask to represent the self they protect and attachments on the mask indicate community connections and past moments. Finally, a monologue or artists statement was performed bringing the puppets to life.

VIEW uses facilitated puppetry – based workshops to create a safe, welcoming environment for those facing mental illness. This builds resiliency and fosters a more positive outlook, acting as a bridge to healing and compassion by increasing understanding and acceptance. Emerging research suggests that creative arts therapies and experiences can help to reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem and quality of life.

Since 2015 there have been over 500 participants encompassing a wide range of communities: Aboriginal youth, High-school art class, Syrian refugees, Foster children, Chinese seniors, vulnerable homeless, Alzheimer clients, Girl Guides, under-employed young adults, young mothers, advantaged seniors, healing arts professionals

 

 


Development Timeline

2015-16: After initial curriculum development, we brought together a team of professionals who delivered the workshops to around 50 participants. (CIP Funding, YYC Invest)

 

 

2016-17: The team offered three-hour mini VIEW workshops to 75 participants. (CADA, private donations)

  • Jack James High School alternative high school
  • St Basil’s Malkite Green Catholic Church and Syrian Refugee Youth Group,
  • Pathfinders – Girl Guides of Canada
  • Four Directions Indigenous Foster Children Program

We screened a documentary at This is My City Festival featuring the work of VIEW participants.

 

2017-18: We facilitated 8 session VIEW courses with two special populations: (Calgary Foundation)

 

 

View with Seniors provides the opportunities to be actively creative, engage socially and share the very important and often lost stories and wisdom of their lives. In addition, the art that seniors create can build self-esteem, enhance quality of life and create a meaningful legacy as a result of a lifetime of experiences.

We also worked with over 50 students (Education Matters) at Forest Lawn High School

And gifted a three – hour mini session to Brenda Strafford Women’s Shelter

 

 


View with Youth
accommodates diverse backgrounds. Some youth are refugees, some speak multiple languages and some already have existing mental health concerns or know of a friend or a family member with a psychological disorder. The goal is to de-stigmatize mental health and promotes connection, understanding, empathy and openness amongst students, teachers and school staff.

2018-19 : We continued with (Calgary Foundation)

  • In partnership with Linkages we facilitated intergenerational sessions with Bowness Seniors together with students from Bowness High School
  • Alzheimer’s Society – Club 36 – Seton and Harvest Heights
  • U of C Community Nursing practicum students received training on VIEW so they could work with the seniors at Club 36
  • Sir Wilfred Laurier Junior High school (Educations Matters)
  • Spring Bank High School, Bragg Creek

 

2019 -20: We expanded VIEW to include workshops based on the Health and Wellness curriculum for elementary school students. We called it the Courage Journey suite

  • Canadian Mental Health Association – Youth SMART 
  • Calgary Arts Academy
  • Haysboro Elementary School
  • Big Brothers and Sisters of Calgary and Area

2020 -21: We adopted the term Courage Journey to identify any of our programs that support positive mental health. With Covid-19 impelling all programming to move to digital delivery we restructured the VIEW program to be delivered online, testing with a group of 8 young adult and seniors. (CADA, NHSP)

collage of colourful puppet masks and people holding them. Text says WP Puppet Theatre Courage Journey

 

  • VIEW OPEN courses
  • Alzheimer’s Society – Club 36 – Seton
  • U of C Community Nursing practicum students

 


A short video of excerpts from the performative reflections from participants in our inaugural facilitation of VIEW from the Inside as a synchronous online course.  Individuals created their own video recordings with whatever means they had available and submitted to WP Puppet Theatre for editing.
Some beautiful thoughts and creative puppets. December 2020.

EXHIBITIONS

Built into every VIEW course is the exhibition of the participants work. This authenticates their work and validates their creative process as well as helps build their self-esteem.

In 2016, together with This is My City Festival, WPTS mounted two exhibitions featuring the extraordinary mask-body puppets. The display at The New Gallery +15 had over 130,000 viewers. The United Active Living exhibit of 40 artworks and writings had over 120 viewers.

In 2017, Wendy, Allan Rosales and Suzanne Clease created Healing Ointment – an art exhibit comprised of art pieces, which respond to the stories heard during the VIEW program, as well as provide resources and links to organizations supporting metal health. This was exhibited at Loft 112 as part of This is My City Festival. It was subsequently moved onto WPTS website as an online resource

 

In 2017-18, and again in 2018-19, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Travelling Exhibition Program (TREX) toured a collection of photographs of the amazing mask body puppets to communities through Southern Alberta. Entitled Courage Journey it advocated the use of the arts to foster community, creativity and wellbeing.

Workshops supporting the exhibition were facilitated for:

  • Lacombe High School
  • Bert Church High school, Airdrie
  • Olds Highschool
  • Livingston High School, Lundbreck
  • Mother Theresa School, Sylvan Lake
  • Bighorn Library, Exshaw

WPTS now has the Courage Journey exhibition available for booking.  More about the exhibit Please contact us. 

2019 – Exhibition at the THIRD ACTion Film Festival at the Glenbow Art Gallery

VIEW FACILITATOR TRAINING – PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

2016:

2018/19

 

AWARDS

2018: Awarded Alberta Treasury Branch Healing Through the Arts Award, as part of the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions

NEED

Canadian Mental Health Association, reports that one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. Mental Health in Calgary is of primary concern – whether from the effects of aging, family stress or violence, homelessness, health issues, drug abuse or the loss or threat of job loss.  As the Calgary Counseling Centre reports “Calgarians are stressed, worried and even panicked about job loss, the economy and their financial futures.” As such, arts interventions offer significant opportunities for emotional expression, social interaction, improving motivation, and relief of some negative symptoms associated with mental illness.

All VIEW workshops included reflection, community building and discussion, which growing research on art activities and art therapy, suggest improves symptoms of depression, reduces symptoms of trauma, improves mood and increases sociability and social engagement (Gussak, 2006; Henderson, Mascaro, & Rosen, 2007; Lyshak-Stelzer, Singer, St. John, & Chemtob, 2007; Puig, Min Lee, Goodwin & Sherrard, 2006; Rusted, Sheppard, & Waller, 2006).

 

VIEW from the INSIDE: Courage Journey demonstrates that puppets have a special power as metaphors and proxies, and stories have a power transcending time & culture. It’s also clear that the creative process can help diverse groups of people to better understand each other, promote diversity, inclusion and provide a platform to express significant social issues. And this is healing through the arts manifested.

VIEW from the Inside is funded by donations, sponsorships, or grants. Your support will create opportunities for people to experience improved mental health and community connection by taking part in VIEW without barrier.

 

 

Using the power of puppetry to impact social change.