“The Turner Center for the Arts is such an amazing resource for the community. It’s a place where people with disabilities are encouraged to use their imagination without limitations and are free to find their creative voice,” says Ryan Sims, OTD/S ’14.
Sims is currently doing part of her doctoral apprenticeship at the Turner Center for the Arts (TCA). TCA is a non-profit organization that strives to foster the social, intellectual, emotional and personal growth of artists with disabilities through creative self-expression. TCA offers art-based programs throughout the greater Saint Louis area serving aspiring artists of all ages whose lives are challenged by developmental disabilities, pervasive mental illness, and/or traumatic brain injury. Sims has been working with Debora Davidson, PhD, OTR/L, president of the board at TCA.
“Clients can use any art supply or medium that we have here including paint, clay, and chalk. They can work in 3D as well if they choose. TCA has an adult day program for those seeking enrichment activities, and a supported employment program to give professionally-minded artists with disabilities a chance to create art as a career,” Sims explains.
TCA's culture is one of inclusion, from program development to program implementation. TCA intentionally targets disenfranchised individuals and takes steps to ensure participation such as reduced fees and scholarships. All programs are centrally located and take place in accessible buildings. The staff has extensive experience working with disabled populations, individuals with different learning styles and abilities, and have successfully completed in-service training as it pertains to working with people with disabilities.
“The Wash U students have been a godsend to our program. Many of them come to TCA for their Fieldwork I mental health hours, but a majority of them continue to volunteer and support us for their self-directed hours. We are very grateful for that,” says TCA Executive Director Sheila Suderwalla, MSW.
Students on the Washington University Student Occupational Therapy Association (WUSOTA) and Pi Theta community services committees have organized an art supply drive for the center. The drive runs through October 24, but donations can be made at any time to the center or online through their website by clicking here.
You can also support TCA by attending their annual art show and fundraiser at Schafly’s Tap Room on December 6. For more information, please visit their website at www.turnercenterforthearts.org.
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Current, future, and accepted applicants are encouraged to visit. We also welcome people who are exploring career options and considering occupational therapy. Dr. Kathy Kniepmann, one of our faculty members, opens our visit sessions with an informal presentation and discussion, followed by a tour that’s led by one of our current occupational therapy students.
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