Creative Wellbeing Programme
Art Worker, Janie Shaw, and Peer Support Worker, Fiona Fairbairn get some inspiration for their creative workshops. Photo Supplied

An innovative creative programme begins this February in Central Otago and is open to anyone experiencing isolation or mental health challenges.

Creative sessions will be held weekly in Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra with a variety of activities in a supportive environment. The programme will still run under Red Light with vaccine passes, masks and distancing.

The Creative Arts Trust has engaged an artist and peer support worker to run the programme which is free to attend and doesn’t require a referral from a health specialist.

Local artist, Janie Shaw, will lead the creative side of the programme which has an arts and crafts focus. Janie is a visual artist and musician based in St Bathans.

“This programme focuses on creativity as a form of self-expression and self-care, rather than artistic skill,” says Shaw.

“We will provide accessible activities to a wide range of individuals, from paint to clay to craft. There will be something for everyone.”

Peer support worker, Fiona Fairbairn, who has experience as a mental health consumer and has previously championed free counselling in the region, will provide wellbeing support to attendees. Fiona is based in Makarora and is an active member of the swimming community in Wanaka.

“I’m really excited to be contributing to this initiative,” said Fairbairn. “Personally, I have found being connected with other people and being involved in creative pursuits has been helpful in my journey.”

The programme aims to support anyone 18 years and over who is struggling with their wellbeing by helping them to be creative and connected with others in a similar situation. Funding from the Ministry of Culture & Heritage has allowed the Trust to expand to Central Otago after successfully piloting the programme in the Waitaki District last year.

Anyone interested can email central@artsenta.org or get in touch on their Facebook page by searching Central Otago Creative Wellbeing.