Monica is friendly, she is outgoing, she has a bubbly personality and she has an intellectual disability and co-occurring mental health diagnosis.

Monica is a member of the Hope Services Counseling Center where she receives behavioral health counseling and case management support. Monica is also a member of the Employment, Media & Community Connections (EMCC) program, where she gets to participate in art projects like weaving at the HopeSTUDIO.

Before joining Hope Services’ Counseling Center, one of Monica’s biggest challenges was just maintaining her independence; getting along with her peers and being able to function in the community in a positive way. Losing your housing means losing your independence, which is something Monica struggled with. And now with all of the support she’s received through Hope Services, she gets along well with her peers, she is able to maintain her housing placement, keep her independence, and be a part of the community.

One of the things that has proven to be a positive activity for clients with developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health needs is weaving in the HopeSTUDIO.  HopeSTUDIO is a part of the Employment, Media & Community Connections (EMCC). The EMCC program is comprised of community-based and site-based activities, training, classes, and work opportunities with the goal to improve the quality of participants’ lives and encourage them to be valuable members of their community.

Monica loves to weave, she is focused and takes pride in her work. Weaving is an art form that clients with varying degrees of ability can accomplish.  The rhythm of weaving is relaxing and helps the client take their minds off of life stresses.

Monica says, “I enjoy weaving in Hope Studio because it helps my mind calm down and it is very relaxing. Weaving helps me feel confident that I can learn something new if I don’t give up”

Weaving has become a key component in “self-care” for Hope Services clients.  Self-care can be achieved in many different ways, including eating right, exercise and education.  An important part of self-care is learning how to decompress, relax, and let go of worries.  For many people art is a form of self-care.  HopeSTUDIO is a quiet and clean space where clients can feel comfortable and safe, and are able to decompress.  Everyone needs an outlet and Hope studio is about giving clients the opportunity to figure out what their outlet is.

April Basuini, Hope’s Community Support Facilitator remarks “Success is when we hear that a client who suffers from seizures is having noticeably less seizures because they are spending time sewing at Hope and at home.  It is encouraging when we have a client who comes in the studio to weave because they are having a bad day and in just a few minutes they feel better physically and mentally.”

HopeSTUDIO is one component of a holistic approach for Hope clients such as Monica, outside of a clinical setting, that has seen great improvement in clients social engagement as well as their emotional and physical wellness.   Their peer connection is no longer based on having disabilities.  Their connection is now about their shared interest in the art of weaving learned through Hope Services.

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