It was Noella Murphy’s idea for Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) to raise funds by publishing a colouring book to which Antigonish area artists might contribute. Noella herself offered two pieces for the book. Colouring Antigonish Volume I was launched and within a year demand of interest lead to Colouring Antigonish Volume II.
What makes Colouring Antigonish special is that so many local artists contributed to making it a success. Well-known area artists like Anna Syperek, Kate Brown-Georgallas, and Maureen St. Clair, to name only a few, contributed artwork for the colouring book. A high school student, Sophie Lawrence, St. Francis Xavier University Education student, Celeigh Barber-Russell, and L’Arche artists Anthony Burns, Kelly Farrel, and Tommy Landry also contributed drawings.
AHA! is a non-profit that recognizes and fosters the interplay between creativity and wellness, promotes education through the arts as a way to health, and assists young artists in a wide range of arts to further their potential. It seems fitting that AHA! celebrates Arts Health Month each November. As one of its founding members, Dr. John Graham-Pole, points out: “Art taps, for each of us, whatever our circumstances, a deep well of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It is indispensable to our lives, and to our total health.”
Proceeds from Colouring Antigonish will go towards arts health programming in the community, building on initiatives like Thundertales, a storytelling program through the arts for youth at Paqtnkek and Antigonish, and The Eldertree Project, which involved the gathering of stories and songs from elders in the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home and Highland-Crest Home. AHA! has also supported a music therapist who became established in a position at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital and in community high schools. Currently, AHA! is supporting a year-long pilot program in expressive arts therapy in the hospital and community.