It was a dark, dreary, grey October evening. The desolate house stood in a stark, lonesome cul-de-sac at the edge of town. At one time it had been a grand home filled with laughter, but now it stands alone, dark and mysterious.
Got your interest? Want to read more?
You’ll have to wait. The creative writers group, made up of residents who live at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre (WRC) in Regina, hasn’t finished the story yet.
Ken Rybchuk, a recreation therapist at WRC, formed the group with colleague Ev Rieder about four years ago. Rybchuk felt the group would fill a need among amongst residents that wasn’t routinely being addressed.
“Some residents are creative but lost their ability to pursue their interests independently,” he said. “This program allows residents to work on their communications skills and be more creative. . . For others, it enables them express their feelings and thoughts when most other times their communication centres upon their needs and wants.”
A group of about eight residents meet most Tuesdays on Unit 2-5 to take part in the program, facilitated by Rybchuk and volunteer Brenda Angelstad.
Ken Rybchuk (standing) with the WRC creative writers group.
Every session starts with word games, followed by exercises intended to spark participants’ imagination. Sometimes they listen to a piece of music. Other times they may look at photos of people places or animals.
“They describe what they would hear, smell, feel or make up names, careers and personalities of people in the pictures. From these, we advance into developing descriptive scenes and story lines.”
On occasion, guest speakers, such as Judith Silverthorne, Regina Public Library’s writer in residence, share their perspective on writing with the class.
Shauna Allan is a newcomer to the group, attending for the past few weeks.
“This class has made me want to write on my own,” said Allan, who says the class has changed how she sees the world around her.
“When I look at different people or buildings I create a mental picture of them. One fellow I saw looked like he could live under a bridge and would charge you a toll. . . I’m not trying to be rude. It’s how I use my thoughts to create a character and create a story around that character.”
While writing is the focus of the group, Rybchuk said there are side-benefits.
“It can help bring people out of their shell. It brings residents together who wouldn’t have talked, otherwise. Some participants have since become friends.”
Dana Dynna, a long-serving member of the group, agreed.
“It’s a chance to share,” she said. “It gives us a chance to talk and to let others talk. It’s good to be involved.”