The truth is that many of us let the federal holidays come and go without thinking too much about them – hey, we’re not perfect either. But for better or for worse, we don’t have that luxury here at UI Rehab; the clients are constantly reminding us and inspiring us to never take any day for granted. Most importantly, they hate being bored! So we love to use these holidays as opportunities to showcase the clients and let them take centerstage. MLK Day is one of our favorite days throughout the year for those who love talking about the deeper aspects of life – things like our hopes and desires for the future, and the strengths we’ve gained from our past pain.
Not surprisingly, we based this Fun Friday event around the idea of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech – but we redesigned it Universal style. The clients and the team planned for an open-mic event where willing clients could volunteer to speak in front of an audience of fellow clients, therapists, and DSP staff. We narrowed the focus of their speeches into two ideals: I Had a Dream, and I Have a Dream – the past and the future. We wanted the clients to open up about goals they’ve set in the past which have now been accomplished, and then encourage them to share their visions for the future.
Every person interprets life differently and has a story to tell. It’s easier to dream towards the future because we are always looking ahead, striving, reaching, desiring – of course, that reaching is necessary for growth. Sometimes, though, we need to stop and look back to see how far we’ve already come. We can get so caught up in hoping and wanting that we miss the hard-earned progress we’ve made to get to this point in our lives.
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.Martin Luther King, Jr.
The MLK art was created in multiple sessions with clients throughout the week using a wide range of art techniques. The DD clients used light boards to trace MLK silhouettes and color them in with markers and colored pencils. Nati from our TRU department led her groups to create special MLK prayer flags with different dreams and quotes on each of them. The other TRU therapists used their sessions to introduce art techniques such as stippled markers, which uses tiny dots of marker to color in shapes and patterns. They also used a collage of colorful circular cutouts to create the hair and body of Martin Luther King Jr. on the posters (see picture above). The client speeches were worked on throughout the week as well in various therapy sessions; therapists helped the clients craft their message and then assisted them in typing or writing their speeches.
Days like this are necessary for both the clients and for us as therapists and staff; it’s like a spiritual recharge, if you will. We listen to the words spoken to us by people who have survived profound change and struggle; we can hear from their own mouths how they view their lives, their injuries, and their accomplishments. We are able to share in the strength of their hopes and dreams. It is both a highly individual and highly communal experience. We are always grateful to be working with clients like ours, and we are continually amazed at the courage and determination they show. The spirit of MLK Jr. lives on.