It is our great pleasure to announce that Collective Healing through Art (CHTA) is officially a program of LinkAGES. CHTA and LinkAGES share so many things– a love of art, storytelling, and meaningful connection to name a few. Most vitally, we share the belief that through intergenerational connections, individuals and communities heal. In only a single year, CHTA has been able to bring this belief into reality in Denver, Colorado, and we’re so pleased to share its story. If you haven’t seen the video interview, be sure to watch it!
Haley and Confidence- Two Kindred Spirits Connect
CHTA founders, Haley and Confidence met in an online breakout room at a Creative Strategies for Change (CSC) Facilitator Workshop focused on building skills for equity, liberation, facilitation and communication. The 18-hour, 6-session, training focused on mobilizing arts for social justice, confronting and combating racism and valuing restorative and wellness-centered practices. Throughout the workshop, Confidence and Haley recognized that their values aligned and there was immediate synchronicity.
A Vision to Connect Youth and Older Adults
“We had seen during the pandemic that there was a lot of isolation and missed milestones in our community. Youth suicide rates were going up and an alarming rate of older adults were being lost to COVID. In our communities, a lot of families in LGBTQIA and marginalized communities had less resources, had less access, and were less resilient during the beginning of the pandemic. I knew there was a way we could disrupt or interrupt what was happening,” Confidence shared in the LinkAGES/CHTA interview How One Intergenerational Program is Healing a Whole Community.
They quickly connected over the fact that they were both raised in intergenerational communities, something they knew helped build within them inner-resilience and healthy coping mechanisms. In the context of what their LGBTQIA and Queer communities were facing, they knew they wanted to meld their love for art and intergenerational relationships in order to help their community unpack collective trauma and heal as individuals and communities.
“My mother created intergenerational spaces for me to connect, share stories and carry on the art of oral history. She taught me to recognize that we must grow and age in community and a networked system of care comes not only from those related by blood.” -Haley Sanner
Collective Healing through Art (CHTA) is Born
With funding from the NextFifty Initiative, they used their complementary skill sets to create curricula and develop partnerships with artists, facilitators, healers, and micro-businesses. The first three cohorts of CHTA would bring together ten youth and ten older adults for a period of eight weeks. Meeting two hours a week, participants would experience collective healing while exploring a new art form. CHTA’s curriculum centers the experiences of its participants and facilitators, 90% of whom are BIPOC and/or Queer. The art-based workshops are crafted and facilitated to unpack systemic oppression, build healthy coping mechanisms, process emotions, support physical and mental health, and create meaningful intergenerational connections. This is possible through authentic storytelling and the shared experience of making art together, two things that transcend differences and connect people across ages, cultures, and backgrounds.
“Intergenerational engagement, like the spaces CHTA created, are unique opportunities to develop a sense of belonging amidst societal ageism. We intended to co-create this space with the participants, not dictating how they feel or act, but empowering them to show up as they are with autonomy over how they engage and share their stories.” -Haley Sanner
By the time the end-of-year celebration came around the CHTA community was made up of 117 participants and 12 facilitators – nearly all BIPOC and Queer.
CHTA Becomes a Program of LinkAGES
In the early days of planning CHTA’s vision, Confidence wrote the name “Rachel B. Cohen.” on a post-it note and stuck it to her computer. She and Haley were familiar with the intergenerational work of LinkAGES and felt in their bones that some day CHTA and LinkAGES would collaborate. They thought it could take five years, but it only took ten months. .
We are also pleased to announce that we received a generous grant from Colorado Health Foundation to continue the good work that CHTA has been doing. The funding will facilitate intergenerational cohorts and affinity groups with a focus on youth physical health.
LinkAGES is honored to have CHTA, Confidence, and Haley join us in our mission. Together, we are committed to advocating for the design and development of age-friendly, intergenerational communities that celebrate diversity, end ageism and embrace collective healing.
Learn more about Haley and Confidence by reading their bios!