News /PEERS launches Empowerment through the Arts Series
By Shannon Eliot
As part of its expanding effort to promote personal empowerment among consumers, PEERS has launched the monthly Empowerment through the Arts Series. The series, which is part of the Social Inclusion Campaign, features an array of performing and visual arts activities designed to foster communication and self-expression and end internalized stigma.
"These workshops are designed to be a tool to enhance self-discovery, manage feelings, resolve issues, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem while promoting emotional health and overall wellbeing," said Yaffa Alter, Empowerment Coordinator for PEERS. "We want to allow people to just be and have fun."
Nearly 400 people have already attended arts series events, some of which include a drumming circle, playback theatre workshop, and poetic expression workshop.
Markeeta Parker found the playback theatre workshop, which featured group members telling stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot, particularly healing.
"It was a great experience," Parker said. "I was able to heal and learn from other people through the art of improv. We acted out various scenarios of trauma we all had experienced in order to heal. We used verbal and non-verbal communication. Everyone was supportive and it went deep. We helped others who needed assistance acting out their stories."
Brianna Williams, an attendee of the drumming circle workshop, found the drumming circle to be effective in community building.
"We started by each of us sitting around a drum, and our teacher sung a song in Yoruba, which reflected his spirituality, lifestyle, and culture," Williams said. "After that, he came to each one of us individually and taught us to play a particular beat for the duration of the song. There wasn't a lot of verbal communication, but we were all in tune and understood one another and picked up on each other's energies."
Williams found the activity healing and left feeling closer to her fellow participants.
"The drumming circle showed that there’s more to us than just what you see," Williams said. "We weren't all the same race, age, or background, but there was this understanding that we have this interconnectedness that we can’t really explain. It’s important as human beings to just understand that, be one with each other, and not worry about social constraints or judgment."
Alter finds inspiration for empowerment workshops both from her own past as well as community members.
"We decided on these activities based on the experience of what has helped me in my recovery, other peoples' requests, and my desire to have activities that are fun, interactive, and healing," Alter said. "Our ultimate goal is to support others and embrace their greatness with strength-based workshops that encourage them to that see every set back is a set up for something better. Infinite possibilities can and do exist for us all."
Upcoming workshop focuses include dancing on Feb. 21, painting, laughing yoga, forgiveness, affirmation design, altar creation, jewelry making, clay molding, maskmaking, and poetry. Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact the PEERS office to stay updated with the latest workshop information.
All Empowerment through the Arts Series workshops take place every third Thursday of the month from 4-6pm at PEERS. For more information, please contact Yaffa Alter at (510) 832-7337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.