Inspirational Creative Art Therapies at the Beck Center for the Arts

Ryan McKean

April 25, 2017

As April is Autism Awareness Month, we caught up with Ryan McKean, Partner and Financial Planner and member of Skylight’s Special Needs Planning Team, to talk about his involvement with The Beck Center for the Arts, in Lakewood, and how its creative art therapies help children with autism and special needs.

How does The Beck Center for the Arts help children with autism and special needs?

The Beck Center for the Arts does amazing work helping 1,500 special needs individuals through their Creative Art Therapies.  They offer all art forms – singing, theatre, dancing, acting, and art – as a therapeutic tool which helps individuals with their academic, motor, emotional and social skills while at the same time developing their talents in arts.  What’s great about the programs is that they receive individualized attention and their goals are individually tailored dependent on their needs.  It massively benefits individuals with autism – improving their speech, motor skills, increasing their independence and helping them become more outgoing.

How did you get involved?

More than 4 years ago, I joined Skylight’s Special Needs Planning Team and starting working and helping families who had children with special needs.  Through this, The Beck Center for the Arts became aware of my involvement in the special needs community and got in touch.  I live in Lakewood and I was looking for ways to collaborate with my community and I wanted to give back to the special needs community so it was the perfect fit.  Straightaway I loved what they did and what they stood for.  I initially helped with Razzle Dazzle, a big production they run every year (in May) which allows individuals with special needs to perform on stage.  I then joined the Finance and Education committee and have been on the Board now for 4 years.  This year, I’m also chairing the Spotlight dinner, the main fundraising event of the year, which will take place in October.

Why does giving back to the special needs community and The Beck Center for the Arts mean so much to you?

The individuals who benefit from the Creative Art Therapies are an inspiration to me.  It’s uplifting to see the expressions of pure joy on their faces.  They get opportunities to do things they’ve never done before and discover talents they didn’t even know they had.  It’s heart-warming to see them grow in confidence, become more outgoing and make great friendships.  In this video, you can hear the individuals describe how happy they feel to be involved in Razzle Dazzle.

Outside of the Creative Art Therapies, I like what art can do and what it adds to people’s lives regardless of whether they have a special need.  My children go to classes there and the fact that it’s a small, local arts group makes it very welcoming and not intimidating.

I’m excited about the work they do and want more people to benefit.

How does Skylight support your work with The Beck Center for the Arts?

Skylight has a long association with the Beck Center for the Arts.  We are currently displaying artwork by the participants of the Creative Arts Therapy program in the Skylight penthouse.  The Dazzling Art Exhibit which will run for the month of April and the artwork will be shared with our colleagues, clients, and guests.  Also, very recently we hosted an event with the Director of Development, the Director of Education and the Associate Director of Creative Arts Therapies from The Beck Center for the Arts who invited couples who had children already attending and new families to learn more about what the Center does.  Skylight is also sponsoring this year’s Razzle Dazzle: Happy Together which is taking place on May 5 & 6.  Please come along and support as these performers will have you believing that Happy Days Are Here Again!

Thanks Ryan for talking to us!