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Art Therapy Helping Binghamton Seniors

(Source: Jason Weinstein)

Once people join the First Ward Senior Center art class in Binghamton, they find plenty of reasons to stay.

"'Thursday I had a good time in art class. I'm looking forward to more fun.' I wrote that a couple of months ago," said Charles Casella of Binghamton.

The members of this class see themselves as an art team - so much so that Patrick Browne made up the team's unofficial uniform - hats with the word "Art" on them.

"Even the word 'art' is written differently on each hat, just to make every one unique because everyone is very unique here," said Browne.

Not only has the class improved the quality of the students' lives but also possibly saved them.

"And I said I'll try going there to see if my mood picks up and sure enough, because I was thinking of even taking medication, but once I started coming here I dropped that idea. I don't need the medication. I just need to be with people," said Barbara Zimbardo of Endicott.

"I have diabetes so I have to be careful. So I draw instead of nibble on junk food," said Deborah Gaylord of Binghamton.

And the benefits are more than anecdotal. A study at George Washington University showed creativity reinforces essential connections in the brain and strengthens morale.

"There's actually scientific studies I'm aware of that suggest creativity helps with brain cells and helps fight off things like memory loss," said Dr. Michael Lavin of the Lourdes Center for Mental Health.

"We started talking about art as therapy and it is. We all think of art as therapy," said Art Instructor Sarah Levy.

These artists are doing more than just creating. After displaying their work at Binghamton's First Friday event a couple of weeks ago, some sold their pieces.

"Even when somebody wanted to buy a pointing it might have been for $5 or $10 but that's a good feeling that somebody likes your art," said Browne.

One of the many reasons these seniors keep painting.

"It's a lifesaver as I said. I love art. I've always loved art. I like to read about art history, I like to do art and it gives me something to look forward to," said Zimbardo.

****In Binghamton, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 HD News****

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