Dr. Nicole McDonald a resident of Oceana County is always looking for a way to give back to the community. Last December, The Community Foundation for Oceana County’s Community Wish List brought her to our work, and our wish for play therapy supplies at The Fountain Hill Center Lakeshore Counseling Office.
“Mental health services are few and far between in Oceana County, and especially services that are child focused. I really loved the idea of supporting kids this way.” Dr. McDonald teaches Creative Therapies at Cornerstone University. Supporting Oceana County kids with play therapy supplies really resonated with her.
“I always tell my students, if you’re working with children, you’d better understand creative therapies. Kids communicate in so many non-verbal ways. Play therapy and art therapy can really help us understand what they are trying to say.” Her class learned art therapy techniques by creating art, and exploring the way that art can promote healing. At the end of the course, students hosted a show, and auctioned their art therapy pieces. Dr. McDonald matched the funds raised at the auction, and together she and her students donated the money we needed for play therapy supplies. Fountain Hill Center’s Therapists will use to help young people in Oceana County find healing and their full potential.
Play, Poverty and Expression
For Dr. McDonald, play and art therapy options in Oceana County are an important part of answering the problem of poverty in the area. “Many aspects of poverty silence voices,” says McDonald. “Creative therapies are about letting kids know that their voices are valid, and that they matter.” Oceana County has Michigan’s 5th highest rate of childhood poverty, according to Kids Count Data.
“For a lot of people in poverty, creative expression seems like a luxury and creativity gets squelched,” says Dr. McDonald. “This kind of work helps protect voices in our community that are traditionally silenced. We can grow a lot as a community when we help kids preserve their power to communicate and create.”
“These kinds of partnerships,” says Fountain Hill Center Executive Coordinator, Amy Van Gunst, “are just the sort of thing we need to help our work on the Lakeshore grow. This kind of creative thinking will help change outcomes for folks who are suffering in the area. We are so grateful to Dr. McDonald and her Creative Therapy students. In the first two months of 2017, we’ve worked more than 30 kids to provide 90 hours of counseling. These play therapy tools will help our youngest clients so much.”