Why the Arts?

Wellness by Design is a unique methodology and arts framework for enhancing students pro-social skills and emotional learning. Taught by professional teaching artists, program content explicitly aligns and correlates art-making skills and concepts inherent to the visual and performing arts creative processes to the five main clusters of emotional competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. The Wellness by Design model systematically utilizes the arts to foster the acquisition of positive social behaviors through the delivery of age-appropriate arts units of studies. The anticipated outcome of providing student support systems through the Wellness by Design SEL Arts program is to begin to change a culture of failure to one of increased student self-actualization and determination to succeed.

There is a direct correlation between characteristics and behaviors necessary to creating art to those necessary for student self-actualization. The arts demand teamwork, self-discipline, assumption of responsibility, problem-solving, and application of critical thinking. The Wellness by Design program lesson content directly focuses on development of these skills addressing both cognitive and affective development.

The following chart delineates these attributes

Alignment of Skills in the Arts with Skills in Social Emotional Learning

  • The art-making process teaches us to work collaboratively in a group as well as assume leadership roles. This is basic to the nature of all the arts; we work as an ensemble in theater, as a choral group, orchestra, and quartet in music, as a corps de ballet in dance. We also learn to assume leadership roles. 
  • We learn to respect others, to appreciate our own talents, and those of others. These competencies are fostered through group exhibits of artwork, of daily observations of ourselves and others in dance classes, in theater repertory work, and through ensemble and orchestra rehearsals.
  • We learn to identify and accept our strengths and weaknesses and in doing so, learn to meet challenges; in particular to strive to become better and more proficient at our art form.
  • We learn the work of delaying immediate gratification and to set both long and short-term goals through the acts of arts practice and refinement.
  • We learn that the only way to achieve these goals is through the development of self-discipline and self-motivation.
  • We learn to take measured risks, to meet challenges and failures head on, and find multiple solutions to problems.
  • We learn that the arts are often an unremitting task master, but once the tasks are mastered, we achieve excellence.
  • We develop our humanity.

The five Social and Emotional competencies are attributed to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).  Wellness by Design is not a CASEL sponsored program.