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Painting Program Raises Awareness for TBI

by Nichole Salva
Wed, Apr 1st 2015 09:00 am
Olean Times

Painting program raises awareness of brain injuries

By KATE DAY SAGER, Olean Times Herald | Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 10:30 pm

OLEAN — Some of the students picked up paintbrushes for the first time ever and with broad strokes created a bright yellow and orange sky for the beginning of their landscape portraits.

The "Artistic Expression in the Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury" workshop Monday at Jamestown Community College in Olean was attended by young and old alike.

The free program was sponsored by Venture Forthe Inc., an agency based in Niagara Falls.

Melanie Booth, outreach and community development coordinator at the Venture Forthe Jamestown office, was busy handing out supplies and snacks while making individuals feel welcome.

"Feel free to get the paint on the tables," Booth said as she provided pallets and paint to the participants.

Booth said she was pleased with the turnout for the first-time event.

"It's a really good mix; we have some professionals, some (traumatic brain injury individuals) and some from the community," she said. "Hopefully this raises awareness. It's a good day."

Tara Little, a participant from Wellsville, said she enjoyed her first crack at painting.

"It's relaxing and fun to do," Little said.

Sadie Jay-Edwards of Directions in Independent Living in Olean, which serves people with all types of disabilities, attended the event with staff member Katelynn Kolbe.

"We've had (traumatic brain injury) support groups in the past, so we want to reinstate them," Jay-Edwards said. "We're reaching out to our folks in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties" to sponsor similar programs, including creative writing sessions.

PROFESSIONALS AT THE event included Melany Weatherall, a counselor at East View Elementary School in Olean.

"We're on spring break. I saw (the notice) in the Times Herald and called to see if there was more space available," Weatherall said. She believes the session will be useful to her professionally.

The workshop was conducted by artist Johnny Tooley, who was both patient and informative with the new painters.

"I love it; I really love it," Tooley said while taking a brief break. "I like seeing the satisfaction they get out of this and the pride that comes with it. To me, that is what is most important."

When he's not conducting workshops, Tooley serves as special programs coordinator at the Resource Center in Jamestown, which provides services to people with disabilities.

The agency plans to hold another program in Olean in November in conjunction with Alzheimer's Awareness Month. A presentation will address memory recognition and how to improve memory in those who are suffering with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

For more information on Venture Forthe, which was founded in 1997 and is one of the largest providers of licensed home care services in Western New York, email Booth at [email protected] or call 285-8070.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at [email protected])