Families Creating Together is an award winning, multigenerational, creative art, program offered to children of all abilities and their families
I am a single mother from Eritrea. My young son has cerebral palsy. He is in a wheelchair, has limited mobility and is unable to speak. However, in an FCT workshop on 3-dimensional “Magical Environments” inspired by neighborhood playgrounds, he communicated his ideas through clay, with his siblings rolling clay coils for him. He sculpted them into grass and red apples, showing his joy and engagement with a huge smile. As the mother of a severely disabled child, this is the first time I felt welcomed – with ALL my children – at a community activity.
As the Director of the KINnections Program at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, I have had the good fortune to work with Ed Pazzanese and his staff and have seen firsthand the impact of their work. Our KINnections program connects grandparents raising grandchildren and kinship families to information, resources and activities in their community that support and strengthen their families. The families we work with face many challenges. When grandparents and other relative caregivers assume care for the children, additional demands impact their well-being. They need access to quality enrichment activities that support the entire family. The opportunity to participate in FCT Programs has been extraordinary. KINnections families have been active in several FCT programs: attending plays such as Alice in Wonderland at the Wheelock Family Theatre, and participating in The Power of Our Stories family art workshop series. After attending these workshops, one grandmother commented to me: ‘My grandson has a developmental disability and this was an amazing opportunity for him to express himself in a productive way. He loved learning sign language. He benefited so much from this program and it really helped with his self-esteem.’ FCT is a vital resource and respite for children and families the KINnections Program supports.
I first became acquainted with FCT in my role as event coordinator of a group home for displaced children in Dorchester. Bringing my young clients to attend FCT’s family art workshops offered a sense of belonging and normalcy to the children while accommodating the needs of the nonprofit program. FCT allowed the children access to cultural resources in the community: generously donating to the group, trips to the science museum and on-going discounted tickets to a local puppet theater. The FCT staff has always been mindful and understanding of the special needs that can result from living through trauma and life disruption, while allowing the children to express themselves through art.
As a foster parent of deaf children and teacher of the deaf, I thank FCT for providing a great opportunity to explore the arts from all perspectives for my children, family, friends and other deaf children. FCT provides qualified sign language interpreters, so that all have equal access. There are not many programs based in the community that provide opportunities for ALL children in a supportive, encouraging, open environment.
It is my pleasure to share enthusiastic support for FCT, an intergenerational expressive arts program. Family Ties of MA is a state-wide parent-driven program that provides informational and support services to families with children with special needs. Our families tell us that one area seriously lacking in the lives of their children is access to creative outlets. This Boston-area program meets these needs for children with disabilities, who can attend workshops with their non-disabled brothers and sisters, parents and sometimes grandparents. These art activities draw together people from around the globe living in neighborhoods across the city, to learn the value of cooperation, build personal understanding and strengthen relationships.
I like the idea that my two girls can create art and have a chance to interact with others and also have a good time. I’m so grateful that this program is offered and we can all together – all three of us – have this experience.
I have a son with autism. Because he gets special services, it’s not always easy to spend time with the rest of the children, so this is a great place to have them create something and let their imaginations run wild.
Families Creating Together Tree of Life Coalition295 Centre St. Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 522-4832 office (voicemail only)(617) 372-3022 cel/text/Españolfamiliescreating@gmail.com
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