Adaptive Art: Goli Hashemi on ARTogether’s Expressive Arts-Based Occupational Therapy Program

What excites ARTogether board member Goli Hashemi about art is how adaptive it can be.

Goli leads ARTogether’s Expressive Arts-Based Occupational Therapy Program at Oakland International High School (OIHS). This program provides newcomers and ESL youth a safe space where they can use the various mediums of art art as a means of self-expression and engagement. By exploring activities that support skill-building and healing, the class aims to promote school performance and success.

As an occupational therapist, Goli’s job is to help clients with diverse physical, cognitive or mental abilities better navigate their daily activities; such as building routines, employment, and leisure time. Goli and her clients work together to identify obstacles in their environment and occupations and form a plan to better navigate them. Sometimes that plan involves teaching a person new skills. For example, an occupational therapist might teach a client how to type or manage their time to help their client with job-related occupations. Other times, the environment must be adapted to accommodate the client’s needs. This can be a challenge with certain occupations; but when it comes to art, there is much more flexibility.

“Who says you have to paint using a paintbrush? Maybe you can paint with your feet. Maybe you can paint directly with your hands,” Goli says. “That’s the beauty of art. It doesn’t have a defined way of being done, as long as you want to express yourself.”

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The weekly Expressive Arts-Based Occupational Therapy class, currently offered online due to COVID-19, is open to students referred from OIHS and Fremont High School. Students are provided with $50 art kits filled with paints, sketchbooks, air dry clay, and colored pencils.

Registration for our fall Occupational Therapy class will open up to OIHS and Fremont High School students in the fall.

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