Camp utilizes art to teach integral life skills

Sophia Johnson | Staff Writer

Anyone can master the art of communication.

Melodic Connections is a music therapy program that promotes social skills using different forms of art to people of all ages with disabilities. From June 11 through 15, kids ages five to eight participated in The Art of Being Social summer camp hosted by Melodic Connections at Crossroads church.

Campers improve their social skills by engaging in the arts rather than just being shown or told how to act. Music therapist Liz Novak said that taking a different approach of teaching through art allows students to learn key ways to interact with others that can stick with them in the future.

“We think that working on social skills can be done well using music, art, drama, dance, all those things. It’s just a different way teaching those skills that you are required to use throughout your whole life,” Novak said. “We are working on our campers being able to attend to the task, to participate, to maintain a give and take of conversation.”

Volunteer Olivia Barnaclo, who is studying music therapy at Eastern Michigan University, said that being part of Melodic Connections for the last three years has not just benefited the kids, but rewards her knowing she has impacted the kids attending the camp.

“This camp has been somewhere my skills as a music therapy student have really been able to grow,” Barnaclo said. “Just watching all the kids grow reminds me that all the work we do is meaningful and it does affect people’s lives and it does change them.”

The summer camp may focus on social skills, but according to Novak, the love of the arts creates connections amongst all involved, building a positive experience for the campers.

“I think the collaboration between all the art forms is a really unique way for kids to experience the arts and still work on social goals and be able to have a fun camp experience. I think that’s the reason people keep coming back,” Novak said.

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Photos contributed by Melodic Connections.