This Sunday, John — who describes himself as “a proud Canadian” — is looking forward to sharing his love of Canada.
John will be performing a “patriotic song” about Canada that he hopes will inspire a sense of pride in the country. “Canada is a land of freedom that celebrates multiculturalism,” he says. “I’m lucky to live here.”
John is a client of the North Bay Regional Health Centre’s (NBRHC) Assertive Community Treatment Teams (ACTT) and member of a unique performance group called The Drama Group. A dedicated group of 10 people, The Drama Group produces three shows each year with the next performance scheduled for June 26 at 6 p.m. at the Salvation Army Church in North Bay.
ACTT are interdisciplinary teams of mental health service providers who specialize in providing patient directed, highly individualized treatment, rehabilitation and support to people who live with severe mental illness.
Caroline Thompson, a retired ACTT Registered Nurse, was motivated to create The Drama Group in 2012 after working with a number of youth performance groups. She realized an immersion into the world of performing arts would complement the more traditional forms of care offered through ACTT.
She explains The Drama Group works because it provides a more holistic approach to health. “The Drama Group promotes mental wellness by creating space for members to learn and connect through the performance arts,” she says. “By encouraging open, artistic expression with a focus on spirituality, members experience personal growth and learn we all have gifts to share.”
John (top right) and Jeremy (bottom) will be performing this Sunday along with the rest of The Drama Group to celebrate the national holiday.
The Drama Group is one of the most attended programs run through ACTT. The members explain they enjoy attending the weekly practices because it is fun and gets them out of the house.
One of the newest members is Jeremy. Diagnosed with a mental illness at eighteen, the now thirty-eight year old finds comfort in The Drama Group. As First Nations, Jeremy incorporates chants and stories into his performances that celebrate his background.
“I feel so good when I come here [to The Drama Group],” Jeremy says. “It helps relax my mind and deal with stress.”
On June 26, Jeremy will share a story on Cree warriors called My People the Cree. The other members of The Drama Group will perform a “cheerleading chant” – pompoms and all – to celebrate the national holiday.
The Salvation Army has been an integral part of The Drama Group, opening its doors to both practices and performances.
The doors open at 6 p.m. Another performance will take place at the Empire Living Centre on Monday, June 27 at 3:15 p.m.