Awakening Minds Art (AMA), a Findlay based non-profit organization, is set to collaborate with the Delphos Area Art Guild (DAAG) this fall to bring therapeutic and educational programming to people of all ages and abilities in the Tri-county area. AMA students participating in a group painting program at the Central Christian Church in Lima display their artistic achievements. (DHI Media/Stephanie Groves)
Awakening Minds Art (AMA), a Findlay based non-profit organization, is set to collaborate with the Delphos Area Art Guild (DAAG) this fall to bring therapeutic and educational programming to people of all ages and abilities in the Tri-county area. AMA students participating in a group painting program at the Central Christian Church in Lima display their artistic achievements. (DHI Media/Stephanie Groves)

LIMA — Since Awakening Minds Art’s inception five years ago — when Executive Director Sarah Crisp began working from the trunk of her vehicle presenting her vision to administrators of nursing homes — her dreams of providing therapeutic and educational programming to people of all ages and abilities in the Tri-county area has come to fruition.

The Findlay-based non-profit organization serves children with special needs who experience challenges participating in group activities, as well as people who may have dementia, cerebral palsy and Down’s Syndrome.

“We are excited to announce that we are collaborating with the Delphos Area Art Guild (DAAG) and expanding our program into Delphos,” Crisp said proudly. “There has been a lot of interest in the community.”

She said some students in the surrounding areas of Delphos used to travel to both the Findlay and Lima for sessions.



Crisp explained that the details of the programming with the art guild are incomplete at this time but sessions may begin as soon as this fall.

DAAG Executive Director Shauna Turner-Smith said she is looking forward to partnering with AMA to bring the convenience of educational and therapeutic art programming to all local communities.

“The number of families and individuals that can benefit from art therapy is continually increasing,“ Turner-Smith explained. “Some families live day to day and don’t go outside of their homes, especially when travel is difficult. We want them to know they have options.”

“We take therapeutic goals and incorporate them into our programming and teach students how to apply the goals to their daily lives outside of the classroom,” Crisp explained.

Art Instructor Anita Rieman, who has worked with Crisp for three and one-half years and has an extensive 12-year background working with special needs children, will be the instructor for the Delphos area.

“For example, if a child does not know how to hold a pencil — they grip it in their hand rather than pinching it between their fingers — we work on teaching them to hold the pencil correctly,” Rieman said.

AMA also services 10-12 nursing homes and provides sessions using acrylic and oil paints, watercolor pencils, and chalk to people suffering from strokes, Alzheimer’s, dementia and blindness.

“We break the art form down to its simplest form and take the students step-by-step through the creative process,” Rieman detailed. “With students who are blind, we provide them with a verbal visual describing the colors, shapes and textures.”

She said while working with students who are blind, she instructs them to run the paint brush left to right and provides a physical barrier — typically her arm — so they do not run off the paper.

“The process we use is very important. By crossing mid-lines of the body, we teach the right and left sides of the brain to work together,” Rieman explained. “We are focused on giving all of our students genuine praise from the heart.”

During one-on-one programming, instructors teach in an intimate setting which are ideal for therapeutic activities and confidence building. The sessions focus on sense of accomplishment, fine motor skills, anger management, crossing mid-lines, storytelling, color matching, counting, education and skill building, focus & and attention span and sentence structure by using different mediums including painting and sculpture classes, art and sensory play, jewelry making, sketching and crafts.

Crisp says AMA is a catch-all program that works with anybody. She believes art is a bond among all people and when it is broken down to its simplest form, it’s achievable for every individual.

“We want to silence the inner voice that tells people they cannot create or that they cannot contribute,” she said. “Everyone has creativity.”

Group sessions are a “mixed bag” of younger students which are geared to integrate and teach all kinds of kids to work together and be aware of each other’s differences.

Currently, AMA retains seven full time employees and two interns who earn credits towards college and high school coursework.

“Most employees have either a degree in Social Work, Psychology or Art Education,” Crisp said. “Or they have the life experience to give them the credibility to work in the special needs field.”

Crisp graduated from Findlay University in 2009 with a degree in Psychology.

“I love seeing my dreams so alive in the staff and know we all have the same passion for helping to create artists out of everyone,” she said. “The staff teaches me more everyday. It truly is a collaboration of beautiful minds.”

AMA receives no government funding and relies on the generosity of private individuals and businesses to help fund the programs. The organization’s goal is to raise $100,000 to support programming and operations.

“Many of our programs require a fee to help cover supply costs,” Crisp explained. “All of our families pay something to participate in the programs; however, many of them are low-income and we try to help them attend classes as much as we can.”

Crisp said donations will help pay for supplies and expenses. More importantly, the contributions will give people from all walks of life the opportunity to enhance their overall physical, emotional and mental well-being.

For more information call 419-302-3892 or visit awakeningmindsart.org.