As our community was responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by quarantining at home and physically distancing from friends and colleagues, many people struggled to maintain a sense of connectedness and to manage their overall well-being. To help address that need, Ringling College of Art and Design, Rutgers University-Newark, New College of Florida, Cross College Alliance, Also Youth, Flow Acupuncture and a collective of artists and educators partnered to launch the Community Healing Spaces program.
Held as a series of weekly virtual workshops over this past summer, Community Healing Spaces offered interactive programs focused on skills building and curated to create connections across our diverse community. The program was centered on creating supportive spaces, activities and dialogue focused on wellness, health and the arts to provide opportunities for connection, the practice of self-care, parenting during COVID, learning about building balance and resilience and other areas. Participation was free and came with access to a multitude of resources, still available to anyone interested online here.
Facilitators and panelists drawn from each of the partner organizations, nonprofit organizations and the community offered workshops on everything from jazz dance, managing stress, creative spirituality, surviving trauma, living authentically, photography, and makeup application for beginners, special effects, and drag, to support groups for surviving loss and grief, LGBTQ+ youth and the trans and gender expansive community. For a full listing of workshops and facilitators, please visit the Community Healing Spaces website.
Over 2,100 members of our community participated in these sessions over the summer, finding support and togetherness in a time of unprecedented isolation and uncertainty. Among the participants were students from all three colleges, members of our local Sarasota-Manatee community, people from all across the United States, and even some from New Zealand and Canada. Through Also Youth’s workshops focused on supporting LGBTQ+ youth, children as young as 13 were able to participate, finding connection and support from peers facing similar challenges.
The Community Healing Spaces program provided an avenue for our community to find the vital connection we all need for well-being. During a time of fear and upheaval, this program showcased the incredible power of unity through not only its broad offerings, but also the breadth of the partnership that made its delivery possible.