Artist Inspires Creative Pursuits for the ALS Community

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In recognition of National Wellness Month, we are exploring the many facets of wellness and the ALS community, shining a spotlight on the act of practicing healthy habits to attain better physical and mental health outcomes.

Research has shown that participating in creative outlets helps create stronger social relationships, reduces stress, and allows us to develop a deeper appreciation for the world around us while helping to improve mental health. And thanks to one man’s interest in art, a new opportunity to follow creative pursuits has opened for people living with ALS.

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Ken-Baltes
The program is in memory of Ken Baltes,
who passed away from ALS

After retiring from a 50-year career in computer technology in 2015, Ken Baltes was finally able to follow his creative interests and focus on his passion for the arts. After he was diagnosed with ALS in 2020, he made it his goal to bring his love of the arts to others who are living with ALS.

Ken quickly joined an Association local board serving Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota and became very active in the ALS community. To help make his dream a reality, he organized a committee to help and they got to work. It was this devotion to creative arts that led to the launch of the new Creative Pursuits Program currently serving the ALS communities in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The Creative Pursuits Program is being led by Liz Stanley who brings a vast background in art education and has been teaching art from preschool age to adults, in every medium, for the last 16 years. Liz lost her best friend, who was an amazing artist, to ALS three years ago. After moving back to the U.S. after seven years teaching abroad in Turkey, Cambodia and Costa Rica, she joined the Association and agreed to take on the challenge.

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This has inspired me to bring my passion for the therapeutic power of creation to people living with ALS. I am honored to carry out Ken's vision for the Creative Pursuits Program.”
Liz Stanley

This unique program is designed to assist individuals living with ALS to live fully as the disease progresses by using art to enhance self-confidence, ease anxiety, and experience self-expression. It provides opportunities for people to participate in creative arts by way of classes, experiences, and connections. Currently, the program offers online and in-person class options in a wide range of artistic disciplines including painting, photography, digital art, music, writing, comedy, forest bathing, and more. The program also offers museum tours and hopes to expand to include art exhibitions, performing arts and gardening.

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The program recently kicked off with a tour of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in June. The museum’s amazing tour guides provided a balanced experience of viewing and learning about the works of Pacita Abad and Paul Chan; great conversations about art, and a little time to learn a new artistic skill.

Mark Mueller is living with ALS and was thrilled he was able to participate in the June Walker Art Center tour. In fact, he was so excited about the experience, he quickly signed up for the next museum tour as well as an upcoming writing class.

The Walker Art Tour was special because the artists of the exhibits we saw showed their passion and were able to take me to another realm and away from my self-awareness.”
Mark Mueller
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“I am so looking forward to the ‘Write Your Life’ class,” says Mark. “I had been asked by my children to jot down some childhood memories and life experiences so they could share them with my grandchildren. I discovered I was in another realm when I was recalling the past and all the wonderful adventures relived. I have so many more adventures and thoughts to share and I trust this class will help me with a framework to help my thoughts flow from mind to paper and keep my additions coming. The Creative Pursuits Program is impacting my life by inviting me to step out and help keep childhood learning and joy alive and well.”

 “This program is more than creative experiences, though,” says Liz. “It is about setting aside the stresses of the disease for a brief time, living a full and balanced life, and building a stronger community of peers. I hope we can reach Ken's goal of expanding Creative Pursuits across the United States and even internationally, so this program can impact the lives of as many people living with ALS as possible.”

To continue to follow stories about people living with ALS in the community and learn more about the disease, subscribe to receive our weekly blogs in your inbox HERE or follow us at als.org/blog.

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Comments

Submitted by: Ronald F. on Wed, 08/23/2023

I am looking to buy a Hoya lift , I have no feeling on my right side of my body due to ALS and i keep falling and i am a big guy and it takes 3 to 4 guys to get me back into my chair. If any one knows a good one, I weigh 302 lbs. any suggestions it has to be electric. Thank you

Submitted by: Amy L. on Thu, 08/24/2023

Hi Ronald. Your ALS Association care team might be able to help. You can find their contact information at als.org/local-care

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