WINDSOR, ONT -- During the depths of the pandemic a new program offered by the Art Gallery of Windsor aims to improve mental health and overall well-being through creativity.

On Saturday, the first in a series of virtual sessions dubbed Taking Care: Where Art Meets Wellness, will offer art workshops and activities meant to improve mood and state of mind.

“I would look at it more as a masterclass on how we can use creativity to better our overall wellbeing,” said Ainslee Winter a professional art therapist and owner of Revival Through Hands Holistic Services.

Winter will work as the instructor for the series which will be conducted via the Zoom video call platform.

The program is being offered for free through support from the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and the Windsor-Essex Community Foundation.

Winter believes art has the power to heal.

“It’s a powerful tool that we can use when we’re feeling stuck in emotions and right now people are having a lot of challenges,” said Winter.

One exercise includes breathing and a focus on one’s own emotions, using those feelings to scribble a design before smoothing out the harsh edges with water and colours to reveal a finished product; but Winter stresses the process is more important than the result.

Winter says the exercise encourages people to reveal their emotions and has even brought people to tears.

“It’s good to allow that to just fully release because it means you’re moving through a stress cycle as opposed to holding it in the body but, also there’s a lot of relief in it,” said Winter.

Winter says the program is meant to be an initiative to bring the community together and offer an outlet for overstressed frontline healthcare workers, parents, and young adults.

The program begins on Saturday at 11 a.m. and runs through to the end of March.