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Healing Through The Arts

A Closer Look at ACT's Health & Healing Programs

ACT has expanded our Health and Healing programming significantly in recent years. By crafting classes to align with the needs of the participants, we have been able to create unique experiences that encourage participation from patients no matter where they are in their journey.

Young white man (John Nowak) holds up an acoustic guitar and smiles next to a poster with the title "Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital"
Teaching Artist John Nowak

“Art is important for all people to experience because no matter the background, ability, or skill level of the people making art we all get the same things out of it. Expression, self care and love, happiness, joy, and so much more," explains ACT Teaching Artist John Nowak, who has instructed patients in both the Mary Free Bed Music Program and the Mindful Music program at Spectrum Health. “The key is making the art accessible to everyone, which is what ACT is doing."

The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is a long-term care state veterans home, which was founded in the aftermath of the Civil War.  

Four students in wheelchairs are sitting in a semi-circle, watching a female instructor in a black shirt and grey skirt give instructions
Students in the GR Home For Vets Program

“A lot of these guys haven’t done a lot of art in their lives, and to bring art to an 80-year-old man is tricky…” says teaching artist Steven Edelmen, who first joined ACT as an intern three years ago when completing his masters degree in expressive arts therapy. “Often, trying to find something that’s very hands-oriented is effective. It’s not so much about what we’ll make as it is getting them engaged.”


Steve has crafted several activities that rely heavily on tactile methods, like painting and print-making, to help students with contextualization and memory connect more easily to the present moment. “In the end I think what they really care about is having the opportunity to express with someone and connect to someone, that’s what we provide."

Young white man (Steven Edelman) wearing a dark blue scarf and a magenta sweater stands and smiles at the front entrance of a building, beneath a large sign that says "Grand Rapids Home For Veterans Main Entrance"
Teaching Artist Steven Edelman

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