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Birmingham, Mich.—April 28, 2021—FAR Therapeutic Arts and Recreation, providing artistic opportunities and recreational therapy for individuals with special needs since 1951, began the celebration of its 70-year anniversary quietly, but that’s about to change. The 2021 calendar is filling up with reimagined events and new fundraising programs that allow the non-profit FAR to continue its mission throughout the pandemic.
“FAR is the Detroit area’s primary resource for fully integrated creative arts and recreational therapy for individuals with special needs, and we serve about 1,500 kids and adults of all ages and diagnoses each year. While we had to hold off on 2020 events during the pandemic, we are reimagining some much-loved traditions to honor our clients and supporters during our 70th anniversary year,” Pamela Ayres, FAR President said. “We help individuals communicate in ways that wouldn’t be possible without FAR; now it’s our turn to showcase their talents in ways that are new to our organization.”
2021 Upcoming Events (virtual or in person; Covid-compliant)
- May 20 – Sing Out 4 Kids; local celebrities including former Red Wing Darren McCarty perform their favorite songs to raise money for FAR in this hybrid virtual and in-person event, with space generously donated by the Birmingham Community House
- June 20 – New! Bringing You Broadway
- July 12 – 23 Camp Sing Out musical theater camp
- November 14 or 17 – Annual FAR Friends fundraising event at Seligman Performing Arts Center at Country Day Upper School
With the guidance of more than 20 board certified therapists and support staff, FAR evaluates clients to assess their individual needs and sensitivities before developing a treatment program which best suits them. Clients have access to a variety of artistic disciplines and recreational activities, including music, visual arts, recreational therapy and dance movement therapy, in one-on-one and group settings. The organization has additional partnerships with other non-profit organizations and 30 local schools and 11 school districts to introduce students with special needs to creative arts and recreational therapy within their familiar educational environment. The non-sectarian FAR has been headquartered in donated space at the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham since 1964.
70-year-old Lisa, who participates in music therapy, has the distinction of being FAR’s longest client. She has been with FAR since 1961, except for a 10-year hiatus when she moved out of state to live with a family member.
“On a recent outing, Lisa thanked me for making her feel special – and my heart melted,” Ayres said. “Every day at FAR, we see the transformative power that art and recreational therapy have on individuals with special needs. As they encounter new disciplines and gain greater experience with familiar but previously inaccessible activities, their self-confidence soars and we begin to see new and exciting facets of their personalities emerge. As their self-regard increases, their interpersonal relationships with their families and caregivers are strengthened, too.”
FAR was originally established by several Oakland County families seeking a social outlet for their children with special needs. The organization was put on hold briefly in the 1970s when legislation broadened access to public schools for children with special needs, but returned when it was determined that children were still not receiving artistic and recreational services at FAR’s level. In the 1980s, FAR redefined its purpose to emphasize individual enrichment through art, music, recreation, dance/movement and life skills. The organization has expanded into Wayne and Macomb Counties over the past decade, and today FAR seeks to boost its purpose to include therapies for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“Our hashtag this anniversary year is #HowFARwevecome. That phrase captures our many advances through the years, but also reminds us that we can still go farther,” Ayres said.
About FAR Therapeutic Arts and Recreation
Founded in 1951, FAR is Metropolitan Detroit’s primary, local, non-profit resource providing fully integrated creative arts options and recreational therapy for individuals of all ages with physical, intellectual, and/or emotional challenges. FAR also promotes public understanding of the abilities and potential of people with special needs and showcases its clients’ talents through a variety of entertainment-themed events. FAR’s outreach is strengthened through its partnerships with schools, school districts, and community organizations. Learn more at https://www.far-therapy.org/.