I would like to express my fervent support for the proposed expansion of the Spark of Brilliance program. Spark of Brilliance is a crucial means for individuals and families impacted by mental health issues and serious mental illness, to reconnect with their passion, their creativity and help to direct their recovery process. Spark of Brilliance provides a nurturing and welcoming community for people to access and participate, to their interest and ability. Formal support services are necessary however often do not meet the wide range of needs of individuals; namely creative expression, developing community connections, building a sense of worth and self-esteem. Spark of Brilliance fills these gaps. I have seen this program grow since its inception, due to the inclusive philosophy, the commitment of the creative mentors and the active participation of members. I have witnessed individuals who have participated in this program, benefit in so many ways from their involvement. Please accept my recommendation that Spark of Brilliance be available to as many people as possible who struggle with their mental health.
Community Torchlight Inc.
o/a Distress Centre Wellington/Dufferin
I appreciate this opportunity to praise Spark of Brilliance for all the incredible work it does. Through grassroots encouragement and mentorship many people and towns have benefited from the stewardship of Spark of Brilliance founder, Judith Rosenberg.
By connecting local talent, families, neighbours, and people interested in the arts, partnerships arise, stigma decreases, and lasting relationships are formed. In creating meaningful works of art via poetry, music and visual arts, to name a few, people on fixed incomes dealing with a variety of health issues find their strength and hope in surprising ways. This is not only truly miraculous, but also very inspiring!
For individuals to be able to express and explore their gifts in a program that is nonthreatening and accepting is a wonderful key in their recovery process. For communities, the result is a better place for all to live as we engage with others from all walks of life and share our stories in a sacred space of acceptance.
I have been involved with the Spark of Brilliance movement for approximately 6 years and I have overcome some of my own creative fears by sharing with others who have overcome great obstacles and dare to express themselves from the mountain tops!
Thank you Judith and Jay for sparking this movement!!
My involvement with Spark of Brilliance is to provide assistance, guidance and support as a board member and secondly, is to provide workshops and guidance as a therapist for participants in the workshops at the Homewood Health Centre.
Spark of Brilliance provides hope to those clients that can begin there life again with respect and dignity through creative arts and other nurturing mediums.
These creative workshops and events provide safety and sanctuary to support and empower their lives. Each person is respected and acknowledge for their talents and gifts they bring to each event. Nurturing, quality of life and dignity are key words when I think of Spark of Brilliance.
What Spark of Brilliance would provide for a Toronto chapter is:
- A creative place for persons with mental health issues to continue their healing journey through the arts.
- To promote community and collegiality by bridging mental health to the community.
- To provide a caring place for persons with mental health issues.
- To enable persons with mental health issues to develop new skills, to learn to grow and give back to their communities.
There are many examples how spark of Brilliance workshops and events have empowered individuals and families to begin a new healing journey.
Through the workshops, persons build their self esteem, sense of belonging and give back to the community through the many events and projects. Please see website for the list of incredible events and projects.
The groups provide relief from anxiety and stress, an outlet for creativity and imagination and introduce concepts of spirituality and nature.
This indeed provide hope, dignity and quality of life to bridge the gap from fragility to strength.
Mitchell L. Hewson, HTM LT RAHP
Manager, Horticultural Therapy Dept.
Chair, Awards Committee CHTA
Administrator, Horticultural Therapy in Practice
Homewood Health Centre
150 Delhi Street
519-824-1010, ext. 2180
I am a recent participant to the activities that Spark of Brilliance offers.
Last Spring, I received an e-mail from a mental health worker informing me about a writing work shop that Sparks of Brilliance was offering. From the end of the work shop, I had learned a lot more about myself, other mental illnesses and how to effectively write my story recovery story.
Little did I know that workshop would open up many other doors down the road, one of them being able to read my story at an event (Now Who’s Talking? – Telling Our Recovery Stories) held in Kitchener in the Fall (November 1, 2009).
Spark of Brilliance contributes extensively to the community it is in. It is an avenue for those struggling with mental illness to gain confidence as well as learn other avenues to heal through in their journey that speak to them directly. I know from reading my recovery story at a public event, I had many people come up to me afterwards to share their stories. Amongst their struggles and emotion, I saw a glimpse of hope in their eyes knowing that others understand what they are going through.
Spark of Brilliance shines a glimmer of hope into the community and gently encourages individuals to move towards it through their own creative means.
Toronto is a great place for a Spark of Brilliance chapter to open. Being such a diverse city with a variety of ethnicities, the activities that Spark of Brilliance offers allows all to tap into it, regardless of their cultural background. That’s the great thing about creativity… it’s unique and is it us all.
There is a need for alternative types of treatment, or complementary types of treatment. Spark of Brilliance fits this need.
Family members have benefited by seeing their child with mental illness laugh again… connect again… have hope again. Mental illness can take so much away from families and Spark of Brilliance provides an outlit for individuals to find their voice again, to discover a lost art within themselves and to mold, shape, transform, paint, smell, taste, draw, etc their life, their journey, their emotion. For a family member of someone with a mental illness, seeing their loved one involved in their life again, in a means that makes them feel fulfilled is huge.
Spark of Brilliance reminds family members that contrary to whatever society says, there is a spark of brilliance in their loved one. They have found it and encourages others to see it too!
I want to share with you my experience with Spark of Brilliance. I have been aware of this program since its inception in Guelph in 1999. I had been hoping for a chapter in our area for more than 5 years. There was talk of bringing Spark of Brilliance to Waterloo Region from the beginning, but it took a while to get there.
Because I had heard many wonderful things about the successes of Spark of Brilliance participants from my many contacts in the mental health field, I constantly monitored what was being done in Guelph at the original site. I was very impressed at the quality of the events the group presented and also the positive comments of participants and their families.
I am the mother of son with schizophrenia and have been an active volunteer in mental health in Waterloo Region for 10 years. Throughout this time, I have seen my son flourish from music therapy and when that ended, join a music/singing group at Waterloo Region Self Help and a local jazz club in Waterloo. I watched friends recover through studying photography and one eventually developed into a professional photographer, so I knew the value of creative endeavors.
As soon as I heard that Spark of Brilliance was coming to Waterloo, I attended the first meeting with my husband and son. We enjoyed the very professional presentation and anxiously awaited the first workshops. My son participated in the 4-day creative writing workshop to learn to tell his story about being someone who lives with hearing voices. This helped his awareness of the voices and also his ability to put some painful experiences into words. He had already been speaking in high schools, meetings for mental health staff and families, as well as police training sessions. These creative writing sessions gave him a second story to tell. He felt this was very important to him as the facilitator of the local schizophrenia support group.
After this creative writing process, Spark of Brilliance held a theatre night, featuring the participants as performers of their stories. It was an excellent evening. Our entire family attended to support my son in his journey to recovery. It was very powerful! He was extremely proud of himself, too.
My husband and I are now on the steering committee for our chapter of Spark of Brilliance because we want this program to be a great success in Waterloo Region. My son is eager to grow in his creative development as part of his recovery. He has felt this need for a long time. I also have made many friends in the mental health community, who are also looking forward to either reconnecting to lost artistic expression or developing skills they have not had.
No one can know what route will lead to healing and recovery for someone with mental health issues. One thing that is quite apparent to me is that there is no single answer. Each community needs to have access to many different and unique programmes to entice and engage seekers of recovery to join and heal and grow.
Although my family’s involvement with Spark of Brilliance has been only for a few months, I can see the increased confidence in my son already. He has developed extensive computer skills in order to write his story and email it to others to edit. He is less nervous speaking in public. He is meeting new people, who constantly compliment and encourage him. Socially, he finds connecting with new people easier, even in large groups. He knows he has important things to say.
My son has decided that he will now join the Stand Spark of Brilliance Up for Mental Health comedy group. He feels his creative writing skills are developing well and he is more aware of some of the symptoms and experiences he had during his psychosis. He has always has a wicked, teasing sense of humour and it will be wonderful to see him put this to good use.
After many years of seclusion in his room, my son was hospitalized for almost a year. We knew that was the right decision on our family’s part when my son’s classic one-liners returned and his coy little smile showed on his face again. Humour is very powerful!
As a family support facilitator, I encourage families to seek out community programmes of all kinds to connect their ill family member to. These do not have to be specifically mental health programmes; in fact, many individuals are reluctant to connect with specific mental health progammes. Spark of Brilliance is an excellent opportunity to reconnect or connect to an activity that is appealing to someone struggling with a mental health issue because family is welcome and encouraged to attend. This is less stigmatizing and also makes it easier for introducing a new person to a group or organization. The events are open to all, so friends or family can attend to enjoy creativity together.
I hope that Toronto will see the huge benefit of Spark of Brilliance’s programming and endorse it fully. This is a unique and motivating programme that, personally, I would like to see in every community.
Over the past year, I have been associated with Spark of Brilliance as an independent filmmaker based in the Guelph area. In the short time that I have been involved with the organization, I have been amazed by the many programs Spark of Brilliance offers in support of people living with mental health issues in our community and beyond. I believe that other cities, including Toronto, can only benefit from having a chapter in their own area.
Spark of Brilliance does wonderful work helping those with mental health issues and their families recover from what can be very debilitating effects. This organization also does a great service in helping to break the negative stigmas so often associated with these issues. I would like to encourage any community to reap the rewards of having such a committed and dedicated group as a resource for the people in their area.
I am the parent of a 17-year-old girl with autism. My daughter has enjoyed several programs offered by Spark of Brilliance in Wellington. In the summer, she exprerienced activities such as drumming circles and an opportunity to learn about service dogs. This winter she will take part in a Spark of Brilliance/Kidsability Art therapy program.
Through these programs we have met people of all ages, abilities and interests. This helps to strengthen our family’s supports in the community. Especially as my daughter enters her young adult years, there are fewer recreational and therapeutic options available to her. Many agency programs only serve individuals up to the age of 18. So we will be looking even more to Spark of Brilliance for support, community and quality creative programs.
My son has been involved over the past 3 years. It (Spark of Brilliance) is a unique program that has helped my son be involved in a organization that is very accepting and understanding of individuals struggling with a mental illness.
The focus of the program is not mental illness, but it is a great creative outlet for people who may otherwise not get the opportunity to be exposed to the arts due to their circumstances. Most recently, my son was part of a Creative Writing workshop that I believe was very valuable to him. The experience overall serves to boost confidence and self-esteem which is an essential component to recovery and sustainability of mental health.
The program offers a unique opportunity for individuals to be exposed to the arts (maybe for the first time). Expressing oneself via the arts is a proven way to boost self-esteem and confidence, the social aspect of being part of a very accepting organization is also very beneficial to those suffering/recovering from mental health issues. I cannot stress enough the importance of having access to such supportive and accepting environment that is not clinically based. This is truly a unique organization and one which I am certain the Toronto community will benefit from and take full advantage of.
I cannot stress enough the importance of having access to such supportive and accepting environment that is not clinically based. This is truly a unique organization and one which I am certain the Toronto community will benefit from and take full advantage of.
I was just realizing, over the past 2 days, that I miss getting together at Spark of Brilliance with positive, supportive people who accept each other as they are and treat each other with ample respect. Why can’t the whole world be like Spark of Brilliance?
That was a rhetorical question, but now that I’ve asked it, perhaps the answer is that the rest of the world hasn’t been lucky enough to have their own breakdown, yet. I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned soooo much over the past few months…and am quite thankful for the experience. It’s done me a world of good.
I must admit that, a few months ago, I was sceptical that art could provide any healing benefits. I’m extremely grateful that I gave it the benefit of the doubt and participated. I get so much more out of every workshop you present. Thank you so much for being there for all of us who need you.
Have a wonderful day. I look forward to more Spark of Brilliance magic!
We won’t be able to make the closing ceremony but would like to thank you and Goldie for the fun and inspiration you provided for Matthew. It was also great that he could share that with his big brother, as he was equally proud of his brother’s mask and couldn’t wait to show his father.
Many thank you’s for your time, effort and attention to these children. You have a very special gift.
Working with Judith Rosenberg in Spark of Brilliance projects has been very rewarding and inspiring. Judith has a way of letting people know that they are unique and wonderful just as they are. She encourages those around her to proudly express who they are, in whatever way that makes them happiest.
Her ideas and projects bring people in the community together. This is true of all stages of her projects from beginning to end: first gathering folks together to plan and collaborate on projects, then getting community members excited about working on the projects themselves, and finally touching others with the finished works of art.
There are many examples, but the mosaic wall in the Guelph Enabling Garden comes to mind first. Those who visit the Garden are awestruck by the wonderful project made possible by the artists inspired by Judith. I can tell that those who understand the meaning behind the mosaic wall feel a sense of inter-connectedness that is often so hard to find.
Judith’s enthusiasm is contagious and talking and working with her has always been a very positive experience.
Guelph Enabling Garden
My experience as a volunteer mentor with Spark of Brilliance has added depth and quality to my life!
Judith Rosenberg epitomizes all that I hold valuable as an open, respectful, appreciative, generous, and conscientious community member who channels her energies into helping effect positive change in the world for those who do not “fit”. I feel blessed to have been offered opportunities to engage in meaningful experiences with adults and children who have so much to offer, and who would typically be segregated because of their unique needs. I am truly honoured to share what is important to me and to be acknowledged as a member of an organization that endeavours to support spiritual and emotional healing by bringing people together to celebrate diversity and manifest harmony!
To whom it may concern:
It has been my distinct privilege to have had the opportunity since September of 2007 to have had the opportunity to work with my now good friend, Judith Rosenberg, in the creation, development and maintenance of a unique creative arts organization within Spark of Brilliance.
An incident happened at the local Church where I am Organist and Choir Director that started me thinking of a concept. Being very new to this city and area, I had no idea after getting the idea of how to bring it to fruition. I sent out letters on a very random basis to organizations that I thought might be interested and could be of assistance. I received one response; from Judith.
We met and a plan began materializing. Judith has such a wealth of experience in organizing and directing community organizations. Here talents in these areas are a boon to the community and the contacts she has developed over her years of doing such work enables her to immediately focus energies in areas that will gain most from such connections.
I am sure that without Judith’s expertise and energy, the Spark of Harmony choir could not have been formed for the benefit of members of our communities who have the most challenges in realizing their goals and objectives. I eagerly look forward to many more years of work with Judith in this and other areas as the benefits multiply for the special people of our region.
Brian R. Garner BA MTA
It has been my pleasure to work with Judith Rosenberg in my capacity as Spark of Brilliance board member since 2003.
As founder and creator of Spark of Brilliance, Judith is a most incredible, empathetic woman and noted ambassador of mental health. She possesses wonderful people skills and is well suited to working with persons healing from mental health issues. Judith is warm and personable and takes the time to assist participants in their healing journey of creative arts, music and other creative mediums. She is altruistic and compassionate, and is an invaluable asset to the world of mental health.
Mitchell L. Hewson HTM LT RAHP
Manager of Horticultural Therapy
Homewood Health Centre
150 Delhi Street
I have had the extreme pleasure of performing my one woman show and delivering workshops to Spark of Brilliance. Judith Rosenberg is bar none the most committed, passionate and determined executive director and founder that I have had the honour of doing business with to date.
Judith conducts the business aspects of our interactions in the utmost professional manner. She is direct, prompt in replying and always an excellent problem solver when need arises. A top notch multi-tasker, Judith is constantly organizing events, attending to copious amounts of administrative details while at the same time, chauffeuring participants to and from workshops. Her energy and compassion astounds and inspires me.
Spark of Brilliance is hands down the most important mental health initiatives in Canada. As someone who has worked in the mental health system, I can truly attest to the fact that Spark of Brilliance fills a huge gap, by providing a generous variety of creative programs that are benefiting a great deal of people challenged by mental health issues. I look forward to working with Judith Rosenberg and the Spark of Brilliance community in the future.
Mental Health Consultant
I want to thank you for the ATC workshop you led today. It was my first time participating in this kind of workshop, and I had a wonderful time making those cards. Everyone seemed to enjoy creating their little pieces of artwork. Jay said he saw a lot of artistic diversity and how each person was able to create in his or her own unique style, which I did see as well. Artist Trading Cards are way cool!
Keep up the great work you’re doing, and I hope to see you soon!
Thank you for a wonderful workshop. The boys were really touched that you gave them a binder. Ryan came home and made 3 more cards!
A good time was had by all thank you!
Just a few words to let you know once more how much I’ve enjoyed and benefited from the “Look Who’s Talking” workshop. Thank you so very much for the opportunity. It is something I will always remember and appreciate.
Judith & Marcey: For all your work organizing and executing: fabulous job! The food just made me feel so special! The Graduation certificate is something I’ll treasure!
To Judith & Elly: I’m just about to listen to the “Calm Down” CD – That was a lovely surprise! Thank you, again, for that, too!
Elly: What a great idea this was! I’m so glad I got to see your show last year, and now attend this workshop.
By sharing so much of your stories, you’ve helped me achieve a new understanding of my own “Mother” issues – and this will be the seeds for another recovery story.
And truly, as I said in class, on the way into and home from class last week, I had two a-ha moments where I truly felt understanding, love and forgiveness for my mother. It was as though I’d suddenly developed that “clear focus” you mentioned in your story today about my Mother as a person, and what her life may have been like. It felt very strange, but wonderful just the same. Like this huge release from baggage I’d been schlepping around since childhood.
I’m going to be missing you next Thursday, along with the other participants, too. Here’s wishing each of you all the best.
I know that the Guelph Enabling Garden is extra special because of Spark of Brilliance’s involvement in it. People are in love with the mosaic wall and the rain barrels. Guelph is so lucky to have you and your organization. I hope you truly realize this.
Guelph Enabling Garden
I want you to know that I think that you are awesome!
An inspiring woman who exudes passion and commitment. The work you do is so important and so many people count on, and believe in, what you are creating. Your “sparks” are already lighting the path for themselves and others to find their way. You have already succeeded!
Your gift is the ability to dream big dreams, in a time where so many have forgotten how to dream. Your determination and focus will help you find the right path to achieve the level of success that you know is possible. Don’t ever stop dreaming those big dreams of yours!
If I can do anything to help you please know that you can call on me.
Laura Lee Therrien
Your warmth envelopes everything you do as does your “Let’s make it happen” approach. You have assembled the most diverse, talented, creative and committed crew for collaboration. This includes the families. People are excited and hopeful. Your attitude is contagious.
At a recent conference, service providers shared how difficult it can be to work in “silos” under so many constraints. I spoke with some agency representatives who attended the forum. They were so joyful at the thought of participating in something so positive and impacting, that they planned to commit some of their personal time to Spark of Brilliance/KidZCreate endeavours. It can be freeing to work in such an unencumbered context..
From a family standpoint, there are so many barriers to moving forward. It seems as though every hour that is not spent supporting our family member is spent in endless advocacy with little to no results. Meetings are most often clinical, formal and strained because of the variety of constraints under which people are working. There rarely (if ever) seems to be the opportunity for the creative brainstorming & “thinking outside the box” that is so desperately required. When I came to the forum, I was completely taken aback by this warm and creative environment, the amazing minds & hearts surrounding me, and the all pervasive (and seemingly foreign) “Let’s make it happen!” approach. People cared. I became very hopeful & excited! There is a sense of belonging.
Judith, you wanted to know what was needed. Plain & simple. You are so respectful about requests, needs and ideas that can seem so unique. You have an ever growing database of diverse human resources to help “Make things happen.” I am sure it must be a lot of work, but it does seem like you are a magnet for great minds and hearts! Obviously, you have an abundance of both!
Already, my son’s self-esteem has grown because of the opportunities you have given him. He has met & communicated independently with wonderful people. He has had things to talk about and share with confidence. “Look at this garden, Nana!” He is beginning to develop his own ideas and projects that may actually happen in partnership with Spark of Brilliance/KidZCreate. He is a part of a community outside of his home.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to keep our “Spark of Brilliance” & watch it ignite!
As a Board member of the Guelph Enabling Garden I have been privileged to work with Judith Rosenberg.
Judith and the Spark of Brilliance group created a beautiful mosaic panel that covers an entire wall of our very large (wheelchair accessible) garden tool shed. This work of art is without a doubt one of the main attractions for visitors to the garden.
While this creation was a huge undertaking and took several months, Judith held onto her vision of this special piece and oversaw the coordination of the mosaic to completion. She worked with not only the Spark of Brilliance members in this creation but she also invited others to contribute, including those who participated in the Enabling Garden programs at that time.
Since the installation of the mosaic, Judith has continued to be involved in the maintenance of the mosaic. While this has presented new challenges, Judith has continued to work diligently with me to resolve these challenges.
During the second year of the Enabling Garden, a rain barrel was stolen. Judith secured the donation of two rain barrels and had them decorated by program participants. Her work was appreciated.
In my opinion the Enabling Garden has benefited from working with Judith and the Spark of Brilliance group. One of our goals is to make the garden a destination; the Spark of Brilliance mosaic and the rain barrels definitely contribute to this goal.
Talia and I both had an amazing time. What a great blend of people, spirituality, music, dance, socializing and food! We’ll definitely see if we can attend more.
It has been great working with Spark of Brilliance and Judith Rosenberg. We have been partners for several years and she is everything you’d want in a partner: courteous, a good listener, proactive, fair, supportive, organized, ethical, dedicated, great at coming up with solutions, and just an all-round great person. I just wish all of my partners were like that!
I haven’t been involved with Spark of Brilliance for very long but thanks to Judith I feel like I have been around for years. Judith makes me feel welcome and wanted at all the events I attend–she treats everyone as if they are the most important person there. I love that about her.
I am so excited to be a part of this unique organization. I love that everyone is welcome. It is so needed to help people who otherwise would have no where to come and explore the creative arts. I’m sure that many people have been impacted by Spark of Brilliance and Judith’s dedication as much as I have.