Step By Step Clubhouse To Host Art, Wellness Festival

Submitted Article

FULTON, NY – The Step By Step Clubhouse, a program of Catholic Charities of Oswego County, has announced that plans are under way for its annual Art and Wellness Festival.

Scheduled for June 7 in Vorhees Park, the festival, funded in part through Entergy Nuclear, uses the arts to help dispel the misconception of mental illness and the social stigma of being labeled with a psychiatric disability.

Jamie Notarthomas, shown on stage at last year’s festival, will return for an encore performance during the 2008 Art and Wellness Festival.  One of Central New York’s most talented performers, the singer / songwriter will perform a number of his self-penned tunes and crowd favorites.The festival showcases the talents and abilities of people recovering from mental illness as well as performances and demonstrations from artists that support the efforts of the Clubhouse.

Colleen Brown, supervisor of the Step By Step Clubhouse program, is looking forward to this year’s festival.

“The Art and Wellness Festival is a fun event that’s enjoyed by both our members and the community. One of our goals at the Clubhouse is to combat the stigma of being diagnosed with a mental illness. The Art and Wellness Festival is a wonderful opportunity for us to provide our community with information and help educate them on the facts and myths regarding a psychiatric disability,” said Brown.

“A mental illness has its primary symptoms that are caused by the illness; however what can be very disruptive are the secondary symptoms caused by the social stigma attached to a mental health diagnosis. Most people do not understand mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder and as a result are apprehensive of what they do not understand. This can lead to people with mental health issues to feeling isolated and rejected. At the Step By Step Clubhouse we work to alleviate these secondary symptoms by offering our members a place where they are welcomed, wanted and appreciated. Our members work side by side with staff members preparing for and hosting the festival,” added Brown.

The festival will feature a variety of hands on art activities for all ages; arts and crafts vendors offering jewelry, plant hangers, candles, pillows, and soft crafts;  and a special display of art work and photography by members of the Step By Step Clubhouse.

The festival will also offer an impressive variety of entertainment by national and regional artists who support the efforts of the Clubhouse including host band Gypsy Red, a special performance by singer / songwriter, Jamie Notarthomas, a drum circle demonstration with Kia Marie Wolf, performances by Ben delaGarza Basset, Dennis Delaney and much more.

Live performances and events will take place from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

There will also be a variety of arts and crafts for display and sale, a 50 / 50 raffle and food will also be available.

In addition to the entertainment, and other events, a number of mental health agencies will be on hand at the festival to share information on the many services that are available throughout Oswego County.

Representatives from the Peer Advocacy Program, the Peer Networking Group, Bright Horizons Community Service Club in Pulaski, and Mental Health Association of Oswego County, and Backstreet Books will answer questions and distribute information for those wishing to learn more about services that are available for those dealing with mental health issues.

For more information on the Step By Step Clubhouse Art and Wellness Festival, contact Brown at 592-5598.

The Step by Step Clubhouse is a program of Catholic Charities of Oswego County.

Entergy Nuclear is providing major funding for the Wellness Festival.

A program of Catholic Charities of Oswego County, the Step by Step Clubhouse is a community psychiatric rehabilitation program that provides several components to adults recovering from mental illness in our community.

These include Transitional Employment, Supportive Employment, Peer Support and Advocacy, Outreach services, and several other programs and activities.

Catholic Charities of Oswego County serves all people in need regardless of their religious affiliation.

Primary funding sources for Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s programs are the United Way of Greater Oswego County, the Diocesan Hope Appeal, the County of Oswego and private donations by individuals and local companies and organizations.