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06 Mar 2023

Make Moments

A creative art partnership between The Selwyn Foundation and Connect the Dots

Encouraging creative expression to enhance seniors’ wellbeing and engagement



Joy, happiness, enthusiasm, a sense of contentment and satisfaction...

Just some of the sentiments expressed by seniors who’ve been taking part in a very special creative art initiative offered by registered charity The Selwyn Foundation in partnership with Connect the Dots charitable trust.

In recent months, the Foundation has been hosting the ‘Make Moments’ art programme run by Connect the Dots, with sessions held at its care homes at Selwyn Village and its memory loss day centres and Selwyn Centres for older people living in the community. Not only are the sessions proving to be extremely popular with participants, but they’re also delivering a wide range of benefits for people’s emotional wellbeing, cognitive ability, and social engagement and interaction.

With its vision to empower and connect older people and those living with memory loss through creativity, Connect the Dots works to enhance the lives of seniors and to foster wellbeing through personal creative expression. Their specially designed ‘Make Moments’ programme consists of five 90-minute art making workshops that are facilitated in a group setting by educators who’ve trained as visual artists or art historians. Each weekly session focuses on a theme that’s meaningful to participants, with group discussion supported by imagery by professional artists to prompt ideas and dialogue. Guided and encouraged by their educator, participants then enjoy working with different art materials to produce a range of works that reflect the particular theme.

In the ‘before’ and ‘after’ evaluations undertaken at the beginning and end of each of the art workshops held recently in the Selwyn environments, the percentage of people experiencing an overall improvement in their general happiness as a direct result of taking part increased significantly, leaping from 57.8% to 83.3% (aggregated total). In the feedback provided, many comments relayed a sense of improved wellbeing due to the social connection with others that’s encouraged by the art activities, and there were also frequent references by participants to having been challenged creatively and how they appreciated the guidance and motivation provided by the educators.

Comments included: ‘This morning’s session made me feel really good’,I feel extended, challenged and satisfied’, ‘It gave me a feeling of freedom to do art with everyone’, ‘I really loved being creative today’, ‘Left me wanting more, and more room to experiment with varied materials’, ‘Looking forward to joining in again’, ‘Feeling good’, and ‘Friendly people – I feel welcome in the group (I’m new here).’

An inspiring short film about the ‘Make Moments’ programme and the partnership between The Selwyn Foundation and Connect the Dots is now available above or  at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbVO7sZgiek, which was recorded over a series of sessions at Selwyn Village and at the Selwyn Centre in Papakura. The mini-documentary profiles the background to the initiative and captures the interaction between the residents, day centre guests, Selwyn staff and the Connect the Dots’ educators, as they collaborate on and discuss the array of vibrant artworks produced.

Commenting on the success of the initiative, The Selwyn Foundation’s Director of Spirituality Revd Caroline Leys says: ‘The Make Moments programme is a cognitively stimulating and emotionally rewarding engagement in life activity which benefits participants on many levels. At Selwyn, there have been many beautiful moments as people have been encouraged to express their creativity, discovered new skills or rediscovered an artistic flair from years gone by, or generally grown in confidence socially as the sessions have progressed.

‘We’re therefore delighted to be able to continue offering the programme at our care homes at Selwyn Village and community day centres over the coming months, and to support the meaningful connections, creative skills and talents, and reminiscing and contemplation that are promoted through this wonderful shared activity.’
For further information on the ‘Make Moments’ partnership between The Selwyn Foundation and Connect the Dots, view the video above or visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbVO7sZgiek.

The Connect the Dots’ Make Moments sessions have been made possible thanks to support from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and Foundation North. Details on other programmes available through Connect the Dots are available at: http://www.connectthedots.org.nz/