Healing Arts Supports Recovery – #AmeriCorps Works


PMSC AmeriCorps Member Brittany Blackham

As an AmeriCorps member serving at BOTTLE WORKS, I have the opportunity to coordinate Healing Arts programming  for certain in-need audiences. At Peniel Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center, we offer both Creative Writing and Photography for residents who are in the last phases within their recovery process.

During the Creative Writing workshop, we have been able to reach this population through the process of grappling with professional creative work, a number of in-class writing exercises, writing prompt assignments, offering praise and critique on original writing, and having important conversations about craft and process. As a class, we often dig into the difference between capital “T” Truth, non-fiction truth and lower case “t” truth, or root truth. We speak at length on how these concepts of truth-seeking can be applied to their daily lives for self-awareness and inspiration.

During the most recent workshop, a Creative Writing class discussion began with a mediation on Maya Angelou’s  quote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you,” which elicited some interesting conversation. So often, artists of all kinds receive a reputation of being troubled individuals. How dangerous is this assumption when various mediums are being exercised as a means of healing, or release from troublesome circumstances. This quote, for instance, does not state “There is no greater joy than sharing your story.” Yet, I have witnessed significant release from these residents once they seize opportunities to read aloud what they have written within the pages of their notebooks.

The client’s’ willingness to participate, enthusiasm, desire for new knowledge, and ability to apply learned concepts have been remarkable. I believe that these workshops will continue to augment the personal growth, educational experience, and self-expression of the residents at Peniel Rehab Center. We will keep digging into our truth, following it within our stories.

Brittany Blackham
PMSC AmeriCorps Member,  Bottleworks Arts on 3rd, Johnstown, PA