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Creative arts improve health

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One thing I noticed years ago after moving to Piscataquis County was the large presence of “crafters” and artists. Coming from New York City I thought at the time it was quaint, a feature of rural living. But I now see it not only as a part of rural culture, but also as a significant element in maintaining longevity and health.

A recent landmark study partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and conducted in different sites across the country evaluated general and mental health of participants engaged in a variety of artistic activities including music, sculpture, painting and dance showed statistically significant improvement among arts participants in general health, social and physical activity, fewer doctors visits, and less medication usage. The difference in medication usage alone at a cost saving of 8 cents per day, if extrapolated to the general older population, could save Medicare part D up to 13 billion dollars!

Other studies show increase in self esteem, cognitive flexibility and sense of well-being from various arts programs even among frail older people including people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Furthermore, studies show that creativity peaks in people in their 70s, which is great news for our region. We must have tremendous creative potential here.

The Commons at Central Hall is alive with arts programs this summer. We have just completed a popular 5 week writing workshop, and a beginning quilting class; and we are currently offering a Young at Heart singing group, a photo-story class and a beginning drawing class as part of our Lifelong Learning Program. We also have an ongoing weekly quilting group which is growing and next week and in August we will be hosting a storytelling group in partnership with the Thompson Free Library and a Story Slam Thursday August 1 from 7-9 p.m. All storytellers welcome.

With all this creative arts opportunity in Piscataquis County, we must be getting healthier! Join us and keep up to date on new offerings throughout the year by going to www.centralhallcommons.org. Or stop in and see our monthly schedule. And if you have a creative project you would like us to help bring to more people in the community, offer your services to teach others. It is good for everyone.

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