FAR Therapeutic Arts and Recreation promotes understanding and provides education for children and adults with special needs through therapeutic opportunities in the arts, recreation and leisure that enrich its clients, their families and the greater community.
Founded in 1951, FAR is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing creative arts and recreational therapies to 1,200 members of our community with special needs. FAR is not affiliated with any religious institution. However, it provides therapy at facilities that have been generously donated by other organizations, some of which are religious. Our offices are located at First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, MI.
FAR uses the creative arts and recreational experiences as therapeutic tools to develop the potential of people with special needs as individuals, as teammates, as family members and as members of the larger community.
What Makes FAR Different
FAR offers a wide range of programming options drawing from the fields of art therapy, music therapy and recreational therapy in order to provide clients the approach that best meets their needs.
There are many options available to people with special needs, but few provide creative arts and recreation therapy.
Unlike education on a particular subject, at FAR, the focus is less about the subject study, and more on the client’s development. In other words, at FAR, the subject of study is the means; achieving therapeutic results is the real goal. FAR’s therapists awaken our clients’ interests and skillfully nurture them to reach their full potential as individuals, as teammates, as family members and as members of the larger community.
This is also different than many more specialized traditional therapies, which focus on improving performance in one particular area (e.g., physical, occupational, speech, etc.). While such therapies are critically important—and many FAR clients participate in them as well—they are fundamentally different. FAR’s therapists harness the power of creative arts and recreation to nurture the development of the whole person to
- Overcome physical, intellectual and emotional barriers
- Develop new skills
- Establish and reinforce a pattern of success
- Build self-esteem
- Improve interpersonal relationships
- Become part of a community
- Discover the joy of self-expression
Many of our clients and their families and caregivers tell us they had all but given up until they found FAR.
FAR Therapeutic Arts and Recreation was formed in 1951 by parents of cognitively impaired children. At that time the organization was called Friends And Relatives (FAR) of South Oakland Handicapped Inc. The purpose of the organization was to help solve the educational, social and recreational needs of the intellectually disabled, the public schools did not provide at the time. FAR was a training center supplying a learning environment for academic and daily living skills, and recreational and social activities for this underserved population. This FAR parent group was diligent in its efforts to get the Special Education Act-Oakland County Millage Bill #156 passed in 1954. This Bill provided funds required for special education programs in Oakland County.
In 1971, Public Act 198 was passed, mandating that Michigan students with disabilities receive appropriate and free education. FAR was no longer necessary as a training center and temporarily closed its doors in 1973.
With the advent of public education for the disabled, there still existed a need for this special population of young people to have experiences that would further aid and add to their emotional, cultural and social development. The idea was to use the arts to improve self-concepts, self-worth and self-images.
The FAR Board of Directors reconvened and endorsed the concept of self-development through participation in a structured therapeutic and performing arts program.
FAR reopened in June of 1974 providing sessions in drama, music, art, dance and ice-skating. Today, we continue to provide innovative programs and have expanded to serve more than 1,200 clients of any age with any special need.