The ability to make music and otherwise enjoy it

WEST SHORE ARTS COUNCIL : Music and the arts offer a cultural cure

Healthy living incorporates some form of work with or exposure to the arts

Most people appreciate how music makes us feel. People of all ages and cultures download tunes to entertain them at home and stay motivated in the gym. Our children take piano or art classes, and we play music for our babies, sometimes even before they’re born.

Since prehistoric cave paintings and the first skin drums, music and art have been part of the human experience. Art lives in all of us, so it stands to reason that people thrive when they are able to express themselves creatively.

With families always on the lookout for effective, affordable and more holistic ways to raise strong kids, it’s exciting to learn more about the roles music and art play in healthy living.

For children and youth, the arts provide important tools for a happy life. Preschool children not yet equipped with language skills are powerfully affected by music, visual arts and dance.

Young children can paint, colour, mold clay, sing songs and dance to convey their feelings and ideas. The arts also provide kids with natural and fun ways to help them develop motor skills and organize information, ultimately leading to increased achievement at school and success in life.

The arts also feed the human spirit and generate “feel good” endorphins, which add up to a prescription for well being that’s artfully free from potentially harmful side effects.

On the mainland, schools in Richmond are working together with their arts and health-care organizations to deliver after-school programs they know can improve the health and well being of their community’s children.

Here at home, parents can find many local organizations that also recognize the benefits of the arts. West Shore Parks and Recreation offers a great range of arts programming that start early with parent/baby music programs and include visual arts, drama and culinary arts classes for children of all ages. Private music and art instructors are a growing commodity, working to keep up with the demand as the West Shore grows and more parents tune into the arts advantage for a healthy lifestyle.

The community can celebrate the visual arts with some of our youngest artists when the Coast Collective Art Centre and the West Shore Arts Council team up again this spring to present their second annual children’s art show, celebrating the theme of “Faeries, Fantasy and Folk Tales.” The showcase will include an Enchanted Forest Festival on Mothers’ Day on the historic Havenwood Estate in Colwood.

The community’s youngest aspiring artists are invited to submit their fantasy-inspired work to hang in the Coast Collective’s Gallery from May 6 to 10. Visit coastcollective.ca for more information on the show.

You can learn more about how the arts affect community health and well being at artshealthnetwork.ca

Cindy Moyer is executive director of the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts. Find it at missa.ca.

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