March 15, 2019

This nonprofit believes in the transformative power of creativity on the body and spirit

Meet the finalists for the 2019 Renewal Awards, a program of The Atlantic and Allstate. Five winners will receive a $20,000 prize from Allstate.

Arts of the Aging believes that everyone has the capacity to be creative. Photo courtesy of the nonprofit

Editor’s note: Meet the finalists for 2019 The Renewal Awards. The annual program that honors nonprofits that are creatively solving problems in their communities is a project of The Atlantic and Allstate. This year, five winners each will receive a $20,000 prize from Allstate. Winners will be announced April 3 at The Renewal Summit in New York City. You can watch a live stream of the event, which begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT, on our Facebook page.

At 71, Karla Kombrink has renewed a passion of hers that she had neglected for most of her adult life. “Art had been a viable part of my life until family and work took over. It wasn’t until I started attending an adult day center that I reopened my love for and participation in the arts,” Kombrink told Arts for the Aging CEO Janine Tursini. The suburban D.C. nonprofit runs an arts program at the adult day center that Kombrink attends, and helps people like her activate their creative side.

Arts for the Aging believes that everyone has the capacity to be creative. Its mission is to create a quality of life for older adults through the arts. By engaging in storytelling, drawing, singing, and dancing, participants stimulate their minds, bodies, and imaginations.

[ Read: Meet the finalists for the 2019 Renewal Awards ]

According to a National Endowment For The Arts study, older adults who regularly engage in art programs reported better health more involvement in overall activities.

Moreover, programs like Arts for the Aging can bring people together to learn and explore with one another. “It’s easy to feel lonely and isolated in aging, especially if we are becoming less agile or mobile. And health impairments compound demonstrably when we are isolated and lonely,” Tursini told us via email. “Study after study shows that regular engagement in the multidisciplinary arts combats isolation and loneliness, spreads joy and better physical, intellectual and emotional health.”

Each year the organization hosts over 800 programs that reach 1,000 older adults weekly. There are workshops on drawing, painting, music, art history, creative writing and storytelling, and dance. The nonprofit also organizes field trips to museums.

Tursini has seen the positive impact it’s had on participants, even earning them recognition for their work. Recently, Kombrink received an honorable mention for her work in a contest held in Greater Washington D.C., of more than 800 submissions.

But Tursini knows there is still work to be done to promote the healthy effects of this type of programming.

“We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the implementation of creative arts programs is a standard model of health and wellbeing, and it’s recognized at regional and national healthcare policy levels,” she wrote.

Follow Arts for the Aging on Twitter @artsfortheaging. Donate to the nonprofit here.

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.