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Free information session on “Underlying causes of Learning Difficulties”. What happens if certain developmental stages such as crawling, or achieving hand dominance are not met? This presentation will address the relationship between developmental milestones and the skills needed for learning reading, writing and math. You will learn about some of the “red flags” that could be cause for concern, and hear about strategies that help. This talk is for teachers, parents, early childhood teachers, education students, support workers, educational assistants and anyone who is interested in learning.

Wednesday June 20, from 7 – 8 pm in the lecture theatre at the Nova Scotia Community College, Belcher St. Kentville. You may contact for more information.

If you would like more information about individual programs for students, go to “Programs” in the Menu bar and scroll down to “Individualized Educational Support”.


New programs for 2012!

Interactive Storytelling and Music Therapy for children aged 6 – 12 began on January 24 in Wolfville in an after-school program. The program is facilitated by Kathleen Purdy and Music Therapist Heather Price, with the support of volunteers from Acadia and the local high school, as well as three music therapy students who are completing a practicum with the Alexander Society.  This program has been largely funded by a grant from the Eastern Kings Memorial Health Foundation in Wolfville.   The Selfish Giant, a story by Oscar Wilde, is the focus of all the activities – songs, drama, movement, art work. Each day the children will hear a new episode of the story, participate in a drama, learn songs and movement and do an art project that is key to the story. For our first art project the children created flowers, fruit and birds for the giant’s garden.

A new pilot project has begun at a local elementary school: I (Kathleen) am collaborating with the music teacher to introduce a story element into two of her regular music classes, as a way of enhancing the involvement of some of the children who have challenges with staying focused and participating fully in the activities of the class. We chose the story of the Deportation of the Acadians from the shores of Nova Scotia in 1755/56 on which to focus all the musical activities. We began by creating a soundscape of what we all imagined it might be like in a (mostly) peaceful farming/fishing community at that time. We heard birds, a church bell, the blacksmiths, rain, thunder, crickets and other small animals. We learned a little about how the dykes were built and then did a rhythmical rock passing game as we sat in a circle. The children seemed to be quite engaged. Next week we will hear the approach of the British soldiers as they march through the village, rounding up all the men and boys.

A third project just beginning is another in-school program for high school students who are challenged in various ways. The story we have chosen on which to hang all the other activities is Iron John, a coming of age story that will take the participants on a journey of self-discovery.  These two school programs are funded by a grant from the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board.
For more information about any of these programs, or if you would like to talk about how you might get a program going in your school or area, please contact me.


The first chapter of the Workbook: You Can Do It Too: Learning Through the Arts, is now online – it can be read and downloaded for free!  The story of “The Pasha, the Mice and the Cheese” is presented in full details for children aged 5 – 12.  Songs and movement games may be be used in other contexts and as daily activities.   Enjoy!   Look for Chapter 2 soon!

Other News:

The fall Creative Arts program for teens with special needs has wrapped up with the story of Peronnik and his journey to attain the “Bowl that fills and the Spear that Kills” .  Our hero, with the help of a Woman in Black, vanquishes the Magician Rogear, who has secreted the bowl and spear in his castle. With the “Laughing flower” that opens all doors, Peronnik found the bowl and spear, and immediately was transported back to the forest where he first encountered the Magician.  He traveled to the next town which was being overpowered by its enemies. He used his spear to kill the enemies, the bowl to heal the fallen, and thus saved the day & the town, after which he was made Prince of the Kingdom.  A celebratory banquet ensued!

Educational Support work at the South Shore Waldorf School has wrapped up for the season – I have been providing individualized programs for three children over the past nine weeks, programs which involve the children in activities using bean bags, balls, skipping ropes, painting and drawing, all of which strengthen the capacity for learning.

Winter is looking very full!

The Alexander Society has received a grant from the Eastern Kings Memorial Health Foundation to run a new program in the winter for children aged 6 -11: Music Therapy and Interactive Storytelling.  Movement, drama and visual arts will be woven into the program to create a full Creative Arts experience.   Registration is being accepted for the program.  It will take place on Tuesdays after school at the Anglican Parish Hall in Wolfville, starting in mid-January. Email for more information.

We will run a new school program for high school students who have special needs at Avonview High in Windsor.  The Creative Arts in-school programs provide a tremendous opportunity for the teachers and educational assistants to learn new strategies to use with their students.   Through the arts we draw on untapped strengths of the participants.

A new initiative in the works is a partnership with a local elementary school music teacher to bring more movement and storytelling elements into the music classroom.

Jam Dance continues, with one coming up on Dec. 15 and two in the new year.   Expect the unexpected!

I will end on a reminder from Sir Ken Robinson: The arts liberate people’s natural capacities.





New Arts Health Network Canada Website!

November, 2011

Dear: AHNC/ AHNC-BC Friends,

We are delighted to inform you that Arts Health Network Canada and its first provincial chapter, Arts Health Network Canada-BC, have launched a new and improved website www.artshealthnetwork.ca. Please visit our new site and send us your feedback; we would love to hear from you!

The aim of AHNC/AHNC-BC is to connect arts and health practitioners in Canada with each other, researchers, decision-makers, and with members of the public who want to benefit from arts and health programs. This website is intended as one step towards helping facilitate those connections. The website is designed as an all-inclusive hub where arts and health users and the public can go to learn about and contribute to knowledge about the ever-growing field of arts and health in Canada.

On this website you will find a wide range of information on arts and health, including: a beginning list of resources ranging from books, film, and websites to reports, magazines, and academic journal articles; exciting new and ongoing initiatives taking place across Canada; national and international research projects; upcoming and ongoing events, classes, and workshops; and an arts and health news feed.

We intend to make the website as comprehensive and informative as possible about arts and health activities taking place across Canada. To do so, we need your input!

Your participation is invaluable!

To contribute information about arts and health related events, initiatives, and / or resources, please send us an email at: .

Thank you for your interest in AHNC/ AHNC-BC and any input you wish to contribute.

Best regards,

Nancy Cooley, Lori Baxter, and Kim Taylor
AHNC / AHNC-BC Start-up Team

Website: www.artshealthnetwork.ca

Arts Health Network Canada-BC gratefully acknowledges its founding contribution from 2010 Legacies Now and the Province of British Columbia.


Now you can learn what you need to know to prepare for and facilitate Learning Through Creative Play.  Take a look at the Work Book link.  I will be adding chapters as time allows.  Please subscribe  and let others know about this resource.  I hope you find it useful and inspiring.   You CAN do it too!

This is an evolving process.  Your input is vital.   Try it out.  Let me know how it goes.   Join the Alexander Society and help more schools and communities learn how to be happier, smarter, gentler, and more inviting.   Everyone can learn from each other through inclusive creative play.

Creative Arts

Photo by Emma VanRooyan


I am excited to welcome Music Therapist Heather Price as my co-facilitator for our fall Creative Arts program for teens. Heather brings a wealth of musical experience with her, and several of her M.T. students who are doing a practicum with the Alexander Society. This program takes place in Wolfville, N.S. every Monday afternoon and continues until Dec. 5th.  We welcome back many of the participants who have been with us for 10 years, and welcome many new volunteers from Acadia University and the local high school. If you know someone who would like to join as a participant or volunteer, please contact me.

We have chosen the ancient Breton tale about the adventures of  “Peronnik”, a poor wanderer who, through his wit and perseverance, gains the famed Golden Bowl and Diamond Spear.  It is another Hero Myth which involves the participants in many adventures.  Most recently, the hero had to catch the colt which guided him through the enchanted forest.  There he ran into a fierce storm,  made with many rhythm instruments and vocal sounds, evoking rain, thunder, lightening, animals calling, etc.  Everyone joyfully participated.

With this group of youth, there is no one who seems adversely affected by Sound, which, for some autistic children, can be overwhelming.   In our programs, we always take into account the individual needs of the child, so if there is someone for whom loud sounds are problematic, we would take that into consideration when planning the program.

My work also takes me to the South Shore Waldorf school of Nova Scotia where I have again taken up the Educational Support work with several students who require these special one-on-one activities to help strengthen their capacity for learning.   Our sessions consist of rhythmic games with bean bags, balls and skipping ropes, as well as Form Drawing and water colour painting.   All of these help the child reach their developmental milestones.   It is such rewarding work!

The first Chapter of the Workbook will be on line soon.  Please subscribe and be the first to see it!


Sir Ken Robinson Speaks Sense

If any of this talk makes sense to you,  get involved in learning through creative play.

Find out how.   Contact me.   Subscribe to stay informed.

Public Acknowledgement of Alexander Society's Good Work

...for creating unique and valuable programs...

Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly   Monday, December 6, 2010
Resolution No. 2783
Whereas the Alexander Society of Wolfville celebrated its 10th Anniversary on November 19, 2010 and
Whereas the Alexander Society was founded in 2000 by Kathleen Purdy and Kim Smith of Canning to enhance learning opportunities for children and teens who require special care and
Whereas the Alexander SOciety teaches children and teens with intellectual disabilities to see the world through arts-based strategies such as music, drama, painting, storytelling and nature which foster communication,social interaction and flexible thinking;
Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commends Kathleen Purdy and Kim Smith for creating a unique and invaluable program for educating  children who require special care that will help them develop the capacity for acknowledging and understanding perspectives of others as well as their own.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

Motion carried unanimously

Ramona Jennex, MLA
Kings South



March 16, 2011 The participants of the Creative Arts for Teens after school program are preparing to set sail for the land of Colchis.   Everyone helped decorate the boat and lace it together.

Jason and his men prepare to sail for the Kingdom of Colchis.

As we move the boat around the room we sing “We are sailing, sailing, sailing; we are sailing over the waters. We are sailing, sailing, sailing; we are sailing over the sea.”  Click the audio  link to hear what it sounds like… We Are Sailing by assn

When Jason arrives, he is told by the King that in order to have the golden fleece, he must complete three difficult tasks.

Next session, we will tackle the impossible and, with the help of Medea, prepare to meet the dragon that guards the fleece. Quite an adventure!

In the process, the teens who are challenged, participate to the full extent of their capacities, taking on roles, creating sound effects, becoming part of the sets, helping create props; and much more.  All the while having a lot of fun, and making new friends! Volunteers provide one-on -one support to each participant.  They are an integral part of the program.

Stay tuned for the final episodes!


The Enchanted Kingdom

Based on a story by Guido Visconti, The Enchanted Kingdom is a desert kingdom where dry winds  blow.

Years ago, all the trees were cut down to build a beautiful castle, but then the rains stopped because there were no trees, the flowers did not grow and the birds stayed away.  Through the desire of the Princess to see real birds, flowers and trees, and the magic of the artist, the Kingdom is restored to its natural beauty.

We have enacted this story with children as young as grade two and now are adapting it for teens with special needs.  Castle towers have been created out of refrigerator boxes and decorated by the children.  The sand dunes were shaped from cardboard and covered with brown translucent fabric.  Camel trains are heard and seen traveling over the desert, bringing treasures from other lands.

From the opening circle, we introduce the drama as we follow a leader to the area that has been set up to tell the story.

Come and follow one and all

We’ll hear the story of Xanadal

Enchanted by power long ago

A desert place where dry winds blow.

And so begins the story, with its songs, chants, followed by the drama, more music, movement and a visual art.  The first day each participant painted a bright hot sun against the intense blue sky.

Oh Great Sun burning bright

Giving heat, giving light.

In the next episode, a merchant will arrive from another land with beautiful tapestries to sell.  For the first time the Princess sees paintings of trees, birds and flowers and is enchanted by them.