ARTS’COOL: a collaborative visual art program for children with disabilities
Danar, Jennifer Anne Jamias
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Collaborative visual art programs are already evident in the occupational therapy profession but there is still a paucity of evidence-based studies that explores the collaborative practices between occupational therapists (OT) and visual artists (VA). Based on what is known in literature, there is still a lack of focus on the OT-VA partnership because collaborators have limited knowledge of the other profession’s role and language and limited opportunities to meet (Wagenfeld, Reynolds and Amiri, 2017). Additionally, visual art programs remain few because children with disabilities tend to have less opportunities to participate in meaningful leisure occupations due to environmental barriers and physical limitations (Law, Petrenchik, King, and Hurley, 2007). To address the identified barriers and challenges in current collaborative practices between the OT and the VA, the author presents ARTS’COOL, a theory-grounded and evidence-based program that will expand leisure opportunities for children with disabilities. This doctoral project discusses the interprofessional collaborative (IPC) approach as applicable to a collaborative visual art program for children with disabilities ages 6 to 10 years old. It also describes how the person-environment-occupation model, the social exchange theory and the framework of occupational justice support the core elements of the program which are the use of art as an intervention, the IPC process and the provision of leisure programs for children with disabilities. The ARTS’COOL program proposes the use of an OT-VA collaboration guide, an eight-week visual art module and program evaluations for the participants, the parents and the OT and VA facilitators. It is the author’s proposed solution for strengthening the OT-VA partnership to develop meaningful and client-centered visual art programs that will cater to the specific needs of children with disabilities.