Hannah has developed an in-depth online volunteer training course specifically designed to help Art for the Journey volunteers provide art programs designed to promote veteran's well-being. We are truly grateful to Hannah for her diligence and excellence in the work she did by providing a top-notch volunteer training, and an amazing follow up to the work of Dr. Erin Oakley, who developed a veterans program initiative and assessment tool to indicate the impact of Art for the Journey art programs for veterans living with PTSD.
The training program consists of six modules, each with a specific and impactful goal. By infusing Art for the Journey's values with trauma-informed care principles and information about the veteran population's needs, Hannah has created a marvelous tool. One of the many fantastic lessons Hannah has put together is all about how to use the Intentional Relationship Model through advocacy, collaboration, empathy, encouragement, instruction, and problem-solving so that volunteers and veterans are set up for a positive and meaningful connection. Hannah's holistic and wonderful program will guide our future volunteers towards sharing the joy of art-making to transform lives.
Hannah says: "Throughout the majority of my educational journey to obtaining my Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree at VCU, I have been planning and preparing for my Capstone project. This project was supposed to happen during the last semester of my program, however, due to COVID-19 the timeline of my last year was flipped backwards. Nine months before my project was supposed to take place, I adapted my plans and dove right in to starting my project this summer.
I am beyond grateful to have been able to work with an organization as dedicated and compassionate as Art for the Journey. Although we were all working from a distance and could only communicate through our computers because of the COVID-19 restrictions, their graciousness could be felt even from miles away. I am proud to be able to say that I had the opportunity to collaborate with this phenomenal team throughout the past few months.
I developed the Working With Veterans volunteer training program for the volunteers of AFJ to take part in before they work with the veteran population. I was also able to establish detailed session plans for a 6-week veterans art program conceptualized by the previous capstone student. Throughout my time working with AFJ, they helped me to never lose sight of their focus – those they serve. I will cherish the time and relationships I have made during this summer for years to come."
Hannah's work expresses our values of well-being, dignity, growth, evolution, generosity, and community. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors and we know that she will continue to change lives!
The work done by doctoral research students in the Occupational Therapy division of VCU has been inspired by an amazing advocate of our work and an AFJ volunteer, Dr. Dianne Simons. Dr. Simons has recently joined the team of AFJ trainers for the Scripps Gerontology Center "Opening Minds through Art" Facilitator Certification training program as we seek to expand the impact. We are grateful to Dianne for bridging our art-focused approach to well-being with the academic pursuits of graduate level Occupational Therapy Students.
~Kenzie Rybak, VCU Bachelor's of Social Work Student and Art for the Journey Work-Study Team Member