Wednesday, April 1, 2015

SUPPORTING DIVERSITY IN CLARKSTON, GEORGIA: InterPlay collaborating with people in underserved communities

CLARKSTON COMMUNITY CENTER. In 2010, I had the opportunity to facilitate an art, movement, and language class for senior refugees in Clarkston, Georgia. Now, I have been invited to bring InterPlay to the Clarkston Community Center and need financial support to do that. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
- written by Ruth Schowalter, Certified InterPlay Leader, MS Applied Lingistics & ESL

We are all connected--"the group is within us"--so we are impacted by each individual. What a pleasure and what a responsibility! If we want more joy, health, and creativity in our communities, we are responsible for making that happen. InterPlay is one of the avenues for achieving that "contagious community health."

Today, on "Give InterPlay Day," I would like you to consider supporting my returning to the Clarkston Community Center to support its diverse communities by facilitating InterPlay playshops. In 2010, I had such a rich time learning from senior refugees--mostly from Bhutan--what their needs were and connecting with them. 

In addition to the need to be involved in community with one another, they had a desire to move, have fun, laugh, learn some English, and to create. Already very creative in their daily lives, they brought such joy to participating in art and language learning in community! InterPlay is such a gentle respectful improvisational system that would provide some of these same gifts to the seniors and others in the Clarkston Community.
I AM BEAUTIFUL!  For this particular class at the Clarkston Community Center, we moved and identified our body parts. Then we cut out figures and wrote the words down before individually clothing the bodies with fabric. I love how this particular woman wrote on her figure, "I am beautiful"! For me, looking at this now, I feel that I was already moving towards InterPlay before I even had discovered InterPlay, which only happened in 2013. Cynthia Winton-Henry says that "...embodied play is the multivitamin of communal health."
By supporting InterPlay Atlanta today on "Give InterPlay Day," (go here), you will give me the  opportunity to bring InterPlay to the programming for underserved communities in Clarkston, Georgia in partnership with the Clarkston Community Center (CCC). How wonderful to collaborate with this diverse group of people through the gift of InterPlay!
CREATING TOGETHER IN COMMUNITY. Here I am, Ruth Schowalter, at the conclusion of one of our art making sessions in 2010 with Bhutanese seniors. The goal was to learn the language of directionality and patterns and then make beautiful images using the 7-design patterns. Art heals. Having fun together is fun. (photo by Karen Phillips)

The Clarkston Community Center, a 501(c)3, serves one of America’s most diverse communities. Formed in 1994, the CCC mission is to provide art, education, recreation and community building to Clarkston and Greater DeKalb County residents, both long-time Americans and newly arriving refugees.
CCC programs are about improving the quality of life of those they serve, from youth to seniors and everyone in between. CCC programs offer opportunities to learn, to gain skills, to discover new interests, to meet neighbors, to enjoy the visual and performing arts and to participate in any of a broad spectrum of programs, activities and events.
INDIVIDUALS CREATING WITHIN A COMMUNITY. I experienced such joy when I witnessed the Bhutanese seniors clothing their cardboard figures in such colorful expressive clothing. They brought their way of "being" into the new culture. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
"At the heart of everything we do is community engagement," says McKenzie Wren, CCCd director. "We bring the world together so people can learn and grow together through opportunities to share food, make art, experience cultural events, dig in the garden, play sports and so much more."

​As a newly Certified InterPlay Leader and master ESL teacher with more than 25 years of experience as an educator I am so excited about bringing InterPlay to this diverse community!
FUN. COMMUNITY. PLAY. CREATING. On the far right, my co-facilitator, artist Karen Phillips, assists one of the Bhutanese seniors during our art/movement/language sessions. What fun InterPlay would be here! (photo by Ruth Schowalter)

In February 2015, after facilitating an introduction to InterPlay for the Clarkston Community Center staff,  they brainstormed and saw the following possible applications for InterPlay:

-creating ease, joy and community for their senior refugee community, who would be engaging in InterPlay activities through the assistance of an interpreter.

-providing a safe place for  children of refugees and American-born residents to build community together and to express themselves and explore their emotions as part of Art at the Center summer camp.​

-supplying an avenue for community connections by doing InterPlay at Saturday morning Clarkston Community Market.

-assisting in the development of long lasting friendships in a diverse community.

-contributing to the professional development of the Bhutanese Dancers of Georgia through InterPlay workshops

​- Exploring inter-generational Interplay with local Mommies and Me programming​

-adding to community programming like MLK day

-using InterPlay forms to help the Clarkston community envision what kind of community they would like to have by the year 2034 in a program called "Imagining.”

I hope that you will give to InterPlay Atlanta today to support these activities at the CCC. 

In addition to supporting InterPlay at the CCC, your gift of money would also go to supporting two other InterPlay Atlanta leaders, Jennifer Denning and Christine Gautreaux in their bringing InterPlay to: 
  •  Women at Lee Arrendale State Prison in partnership with Reforming Arts.
  •  The Atlanta Pretrial Detention Center, part of the detention center's programming that is designed to support and empower women during their time of incarceration.
  •  NAMI of Georgia in conjunction with a street performance they will bring to downtown Decatur to raise awareness about mental illness.
Read blogs about their InterPlay work in these underserved communities: