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Centre for the Arts in Human Development celebrates 25 years at Concordia

Ray-Man Aric Ciminera performs in the Centre for the Arts in Human Development's 2010 musical eco drama - The Frog & the Princess (Photo, James Ciminera)
Montreal - Monday, May 31, 2021

Ray-Man Aric Ciminera performs in the Centre for the Arts in Human Development's 2010 musical eco drama - The Frog & the Princess (Photo, James Ciminera)

By Jordan Stoopler

On their very first day, the new participants at Concordia’s Centre for the Arts in Human Development (CAHD) are often asked how they are feeling. Many are shy and reserved, perhaps unsure of themselves. But, upon their graduation from the program three years later, many have undergone a major personal transformation.

“You can see changes in their self-confidence, their ability to express themselves and socialize,” said Lenore Vosberg, who is co-founder of the Centre along with Concordia professors Stephen Snow and Miranda D’Amico. “Those observations are corroborated by family members who feel that we have made a difference in their lives.”

The CAHD, located on Concordia’s Loyola campus in NDG, bills itself as an “educational, clinical and research centre,” offering creative arts therapies in art, drama, music and dance/movement to those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. It caters to those over the age of 21 and offers its therapeutic services through a partnership with the West Montreal Readaptation Centre (CIUSSS-ODIM) and CRDI-TED Miriam (CIUSSS-Centre-Ouest). Participants, who number 20 each two-year session, are all interested in the arts, and meet twice a week in accordance with Concordia University’s academic calendar.

Since its inception in 1996, the Centre has trained hundreds of graduate student interns, who have, in turn, provided therapeutic programs to over 300 of the program’s participants with special needs.

One of the staples of the program is its biennial original musical show. Thirteen productions have been staged in the Centre’s history, with themes ranging from self-confidence, relationships and mental health.

“The shows have had an impact on members of the community,” said Vosberg. “They all result in people having new knowledge about those with disabilities and what they can achieve artistically.”

This year, the CAHD had to adapt its programming in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. All therapies and sessions have been conducted virtually to ensure the safety of all participants, staff, and interns.

 The pandemic has also required some creativity when it comes to the upcoming celebrations surrounding the Centre’s 25th silver jubilee anniversary. A virtual fundraising event is set for June 17 featuring special tributes and entertainment from participants in the program. An online reception will precede a video presentation highlighting CAHD’s achievements.

“25 years is a big achievement,” said Vosberg. “We are happy to still be a Centre providing important services at Concordia.”

Visit concordia.ca/cahd or CAHD’s Facebook page for more information about the upcoming fundraising event. For further inquiries, contact cahd@concordia.ca. The program welcomes 20 participants every second year.