Authored by Lisa Most
The Creative Clubhouse, founded by Library Technician Eric Jones in August 2016, is a group of adults with varying levels of abilities who meet twice per month at the San Diego County Library in Lakeside, California to explore their creative talents through art.
In a conversation with Jones on March 13, 2020, he revealed that he originally conceptualized the Creative Clubhouse in 2012 while working at a different branch of the San Diego County Library. Jones noticed that several companies and caretakers were using the library to bring in their clients with special needs. He apprehended a few instances in which coaches were not spending quality time with their clients, so he devised a plan and obtained permission to begin activities in the community room of the library with coaches and their clients twice per week. Activities in the community room included crafts, exercise, and singing karaoke, among various things.
Upon moving to the Lakeside Branch of San Diego County Library in 2016, Jones approached his new branch manager with an eagerness to continue the program at Lakeside. He reached out to various group leaders via a questionnaire to learn which activities their clients were interested in; the consensus was that clients enjoyed doing crafts. Thus, the Creative Clubhouse was formed as a unique program at the library which features several group members from different companies, including CPSRC Adult Day Care, Employment Community Options, El Capitan Transitional High School, and Options for All. In addition, the group also includes single members who are brought in by their caregivers. Participants are from a variety of age groups and backgrounds, each with their own unique skill sets and challenges. However, the Creative Clubhouse offers much more than just an art workshop and social gathering to its members.
San Diego County Library professionals like Jones are dedicated to creating a space which resonates with the Vincentian values of truth, love, respect, opportunity, excellence, and service (Angel, n.d.) in order to combat the ignorance of misrepresentation. There is a recognized dilemma in our society today in which “integration and acceptance for people with disabilities is vitally important, [and] yet isolation is still a major issue” (O’Donnell 2018, para. 2). This issue of isolation stems largely from the fact that people with disabilities are being misrepresented by popular culture. People with disabilities are often portrayed as being deficient with interactions in normal daily life due to their physical or mental impairment (Wood 2012). These gross misrepresentations are portrayed through popular media such as television, films, advertising and the news, sources which Americans rely heavily on for information to form their views (Haller and Zhang 2014).
The picture in this article symbolizes the San Diego County Library’s commitments to inclusion and compassionate service for all (San Diego County Library, n.d.), values which align perfectly with the Vincentian motivational core values of truth, love, and respect. The Clubhouse is an inclusive environment in which members are valued and respected for who they are. They are known by their names and not by their disabilities. Group members are not just learners, but they are also teachers and creators. The Clubhouse provides them a comfortable space in which creativity can flourish and self-confidence can grow. The unique personalities, talents, kindness, and joy that each member of the Clubhouse brings to the library has a profoundly positive impact on the library’s environment and culture that extends into the community of Lakeside and beyond.
Angel, Christine M. n.d. “Information Representation through the Vincentian Lens of Transparency: Providing the Under and Misrepresented with a Voice without Our Cultural Heritage Records.” Evolution of Teaching Philosophy: 1-7. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VkY3xbRv1Ikuny5LApVmVWmSiZ81OTtUyJ6aSl_I3xo/edit
Haller, Beth and Lingling Zhang. 2014. “Stigma or Empowerment? What Do Disabled People Say About Their Representation in News and Entertainment Media?” Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal 9, no. 4 (2014). http://hdl.handle.net/10125/58576.
O’Donnell, Brian. 2018. “Why Are People with Disabilities Still So Underrepresented in Media?” The Mighty. https://themighty.com/2018/07/disabilities-underrepresented-media/.
San Diego County Library. n.d. “Strategic Plan.” Accessed March 14, 2020. https://www.sdcl.org/PDF/sdcl_strategic-plan_2019.pdf
Wood, Lucy. 2012. “Media Representation of Disabled People: A Critical Analysis.” Disability Planet. http://www.disabilityplanet.co.uk/critical-analysis.html.