F/STOPOrganization Associated with Program
F/STOP is the Mariposa County Arts Council first lifespan learning program and is comprised of four-week artist-in-residency digital photography courses designed to promote seniorsâ€™ creativity and self-expression. Participants in the program will learn to appreciate the art of photography through discussion-based activities and gain new photography skills through the use of digital cameras. Images taken and selected by participants will be included in a physical and online exhibition to be shared with the entire community.
The F/STOP initiative was created in 2013 and serves 200 seniors a year. Healthy, involved, creative older adults add much value to a community and this new lifespan learning initiative aims to use art as a catalyst for continued engagement in community life through the creation and maintenance of social networks. F/STOP classes will provide a place for healthy social engagement through facilitated discussions and group discovery of photography, promoting the idea of arts/cultural organizations as positive and safe public spaces for creating community. It is a communityâ€™s elders who have traditionally been the keepers of culture, passing on the history and norms of a community. F/STOP celebrates this tradition by providing a forum for older adults to share their perspectives and narratives with the community at large. F/STOP aspires to nurture artwork created by local seniors that is steeped in the unique history, culture, and economy of Mariposa County. This local focus creates greater investment within the larger community and allows for this place-based art program to encourage multiple avenues for community participation/engagement.
The F/STOP initiative was created in response to census data indicating that seniors are one of the largest and fastest growing demographic groups in Mariposa Co., and that they represent an array of socioeconomic levels and diverse cultural backgrounds. Even though people over the age of 65 comprise over 20% of Mariposa Countyâ€™s population there were no organizations in the county sponsoring art programming specifically for this sector of the population. The Arts Council recognized this need in the community and an occasion to develop and deliver relevant and meaningful community art programming for seniors, in partnership with local senior service providers.
Furthermore, the growing body of research on creativity and aging strongly supports the idea that arts programming is vital to the health and wellbeing of seniors. According to the Creativity and Aging Study, the benefits of arts programming for seniors are: 1) better overall health, including less need for doctorâ€™s visits and medication; 2) more positive responses on mental health measures; 3) more participation in other activities (The Creativity and Aging Study: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults Final Report: April 2006, page 1). F/STOP was developed to improve the quality of life for seniors in Mariposa County by bridging the significant gap between community-based arts programming and aging services for this growing population. Furthermore, F/STOP advances the mission of the Mariposa County Arts Council, which is to promote and support all forms of the cultural arts, for all ages, throughout Mariposa County.
This program conducts multiple evaluations ongoing throughout the program including interviews, individual assessments, attendance numbers, and press reviews.Â