About FAR


FAR’s Mission

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 1,400 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.


What FAR Does

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.

Hear How FAR’s Therapies Have Transformed Lives


FAR is a non-sectarian, nonprofit organization that provides services for people of all ages who have physical, intellectual, and/or emotional challenges. Formed in 1951 by parents seeking a safe place for their children to enjoy social interaction with friends, FAR found a permanent home in 1964, when the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham offered its extensive facilities on a rent-free basis. Through the years, our focus has shifted to align with the needs and interests of the society we serve. Early on FAR embraced an advocacy role.

We championed public understanding of the abilities and potential of people with special needs and sought legal protections through the 1954 Michigan Special Education Act. In the ‘70s, we began to focus on client self-development through participation in a structured therapeutic and performing arts program, and after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990, further refined our programming to complement the public school curriculum. Professional therapists helped redefine FAR’s purpose, emphasizing individual enrichment through the customized application of arts, recreation, and life skills. It would no longer be about learning to dance – but about learning essential life skills through dance.

In 2000, FAR staged its first fundraiser showcasing its clients’ talents and new-found confidence as they performed with their therapists. This became an annual event, much loved by our clients and community of FAR supporters. Other programs were quickly added to the calendar. In this timeframe, the approach to serving our clients evolved again. Instead of working with a single therapist in a linear program, FAR therapists offered the option of integrated programs that expand and coordinate opportunities for client growth across multiple therapies.

This fully integrated approach to answering the complex needs of each client has become the unique, distinguishing benefit of the FAR organization. Today, FAR Therapeutic Arts and Recreation advances our service mission by offering an expanded range of creative arts and recreational therapies to more than 1,400 clients of all ages and with a wide array of special needs. More than ever, we are committed to giving them a forum for self-expression and personal growth, long into the future.