Today’s blog post highlights a non-profit called Creative Arts for Developing Minds, and features guest blogger Nan Arnstein. I have networked and talked frequently with Nan, and this is a truly wonderful organization, and an inspiring story of a dream realized. More info can be found at www.creativeartsdm.org.
I am a former foster child who learned to play the piano at age five. Over time, as I withdrew from the world in an attempt to survive the uncertainties of being in and out of foster homes, the piano became my refuge. Music was an escape from the world and playing the piano was something that no one could take from me. Thus began the beginning of what has turned out to be a life-long solace. Here is the story of how Creative Arts for Developing Minds came into existence.
The month of January 2009 was cold, snowy and provided the perfect back drop for reflection. I had spent 20+ years working in the public accounting and corporate financial worlds and was ready for a change. The phrase “mid-life crisis” does not really fit as I did not go out and buy some outrageous vehicle or take a trip around the world. Rather, I decided to start a non-profit organization that would provide combined music, art and movement activities for children in foster care. Quite ambitious given we were in the middle of a recession, I had no job and not much experience working within the nonprofit landscape. What I had was a desire to provide an opportunity for current foster children to increase their self-esteem and to develop a sense of community using the creative arts as the vehicle. After researching the effects that trauma has on a child’s developing brain, I discovered that exposure to creative arts activities assist in the reversal of the effects of those earlier events and even develop new neuro-pathways within the brain. What a benefit – an opportunity to learn self expression in a safe environment AND heal prior damage at the same time!
Creative Arts for Developing Minds is a nonprofit organization located in the greater Hartford area. Our therapeutically developed curriculum provides unique activities that combine the creative modalities of music, movement and art. We provide activities that challenge each child to express themselves in a safe environment. Creative Arts for Developing Minds provides services to foster children between the ages of two and twelve through eight week sessions that meet once per week. Children are encouraged to attend subsequent sessions as the benefits of the activities increase exponentially with additional exposure to creative modalities.
I am honored to be the founder and chief executive officer of Creative Arts for Developing Minds. To work with foster children in a healing environment and to offer them creative outlets to express their feelings is rewarding on a daily basis. To provide a safe space for foster children in which they feel special, listened to and cared about is my way to give back to the community. I was lucky to find the piano. Now I assist other foster children to find their instrument of expression.
Nan Arnstein, Founder / CEO