When 12 Coolum friends met to celebrate a 65th birthday one night in 2013, they couldn’t imagine how far their idea would take off to provide free art classes for people living with significant challenges in their lives.
“The most amazing thing occurred that night after one friend talked about this idea,” Coolum HeARTs President Barb Holden said.
“Another member offered to pay for easels, another offered a donation of $1000 from his business and someone else offered the proceeds from an event. We had enough money to start, and so began the art classes in the front room of the Coolum Art Studio after 22 people responded to our initial advertisement.
“Thirteen people, with varied ways of life and challenges they were dealing with, attended that first art class in February 2014,” she said.
Within three months the group sought another art teacher as numbers continued to increase. The popularity of the art classes led to the creation of Coolum HeARTs, a not for profit organisation which provides free access to the arts for people who live with mental illness, depression and anxiety, physical and intellectual disability, domestic violence, the effects of alcohol and drug abuse and social isolation.
Coolum HeARTs has continued to expand, and offers singing through its I’m Still Standing choir and Heartbeats drumming group.
“We also recently started Tai Chi and meditation groups to provide a holistic approach to the overall wellbeing of our 41 participants and 25 dedicated volunteers who support our weekly groups,” Barb said.
“Through Coolum HeARTs we are delivering much needed services to our community, and have developed strong links to other local organisations to share resources for the benefit of everyone.
“With the growth of our programs we are now looking for a ‘home’ where we can run our groups from one central location,” she said.
For more information about Coolum HeARTs programs contact Barb Holden on 5446 3533.