REACH students make new connections through poetry

Posted: Thursday, June 04, 2009

The new poetry class at the Canvas Community Art Studio & Gallery provides people with disabilities a way to connect, says teacher Kelly Manning.

"The importance of poetry to anyone is the opportunity to connect, to use it as a tool to connect to their emotions or the world around them in a different way," Manning said.

For the past month, the Canvas' day habilitation program has offered the class to REACH clients, and on Wednesday, June 10, students will have a chance to perform their works. Those students are Louis Hernandez, Rochelle Flansaas, Gina Frickee, Corrine Jackson, Niall Johnson and Evvanne Menasee.

The Canvas usually focuses on visual arts, Manning said, and the class was an opportunity for the students to draw links between the visual arts and language.

"(They) find connections between the art that they do and their writing," she said.

The poetry class was a success both in volume of poetry produced and in its effect on the students, Manning said.

"One of the students was having a rough night the other night, and didn't really want to participate in some of the other activities ...but sat there and wrote the whole time and wrote what she was feeling and ... at the end, she said 'I feel better, I'm happy that I was able to do that'. So she found it was an new outlet for her for expressing her art and her emotions," she said.

Canvas Program Developer MK MacNaughton agreed on the success of the class.

"Not all the artists can read or write but everybody has something to say and they say it very eloquently."

The event will start at 4:30 and go until 6 p.m. and everyone is welcome. Tom Locher, a local musician, will provide piano music during a reception in the artists' honor and the Canvas staff will serve hors d'oeuvres.

The reading is part of REACH's ongoing mission to foster independence for people with disabilities and connections with the community. REACH, formed in 1977, provides a variety of services for people with disabilities including job placement services and housing.

The Canvas was formed in 2006 as REACH's day habilitation program and community outreach center. They offer a variety of classes to REACH clients and the community at large throughout the month, including glass engraving, jewelry making, carving and poetry.

For more details, call MK MacNaughton at 586-1750 or visit

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