|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
||Contact: Valerie Avery
|December 23, 2010
BIG SPRING – The patients at Big Spring State Hospital this month experienced many of the same traditions and activities that their friends and family shared this holiday season.
And in so doing, hopefully it will help them in their recovery as they work toward returning home.
Patients were treated to Christmas parties, treats of hot chocolate and other goodies, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, music, presents and a re-enactment of the Nativity scene.
The activities have a twofold purpose, said Activity Therapies Department Director Josh Preston. Celebrating the holiday is fun, and also, the traditions from their past can give them a sense of security and a sense of warmth that they may be missing during this time of year.
“It’s therapeutic and it gives them a sense of belonging,” Preston said.
As the Archangel, resplendent in her flowing pristine white gown and gold wings first entered the Tollett All-Faith Chapel on the Big Spring State Hospital campus on Tuesday, the close to 60 patients and employees knew this would be a special performance.
The rich red and blue robes that hung from the ever-straight shoulders of the three wise men proudly carrying their gifts to the manger and the simple cloths of the shepherds who came to see the baby Jesus born in the manger never looked better.
“It was just an awesome performance,” said Registered Therapist Julie Anderson who along with several others in the ATD department worked for more than a month recreating the scene and practicing the songs and lines.
The smallest detail was not overlooked, from the hand-sewn costumes by the volunteers to the painted wooden manger animals made by Delbert Green in the horticulture department.
Employees and patients took great pride in each step of the process even down to the gold crowns placed firmly on the heads of the three wise men.
The audience joined in by singing familiar hymns, such as “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night” and “Angels We Have Heard on High”. A feeling of peace fell over the chapel as big Spring State Hospital Chaplain Rick Foster presented the homily.
“I am grateful for this congregation, who worked so hard to put on this drama for us,” he said. “There will be thousands of productions like this one across the country. And it helped us to see it visually as you brought it to life.”
The congregation sang one final hymn: “Joy to the World” before the patients changed from the costumes characters such as Mary and Joseph and joined everyone in the ATD Atrium for a treat of hot chocolate and an afternoon of parties that included Christmas movies, such as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” Others tapped into their creative element and constructed Christmas cards to send to friends and family.
“The activities give comfort by being something familiar,” Anderson said. “In my life, this Christmas pageant was something I looked forward to every Christmas. We try to provide that traditional element. It’s one of the things that I looked forward to and we hope that it gives them some comfort while they are here.”
Big Spring State Hospital has tried to keep patients busy at this time of year by taking them to the Comanche Trail of Lights and bringing out groups such as the Tardy Bells the retired teachers handbell group who played for the patients a few weeks ago. Also, each patient receives presents on Christmas morning.
“Many want to be home at Christmas, so we try to make it where they can celebrate here and do many of the same things they would be doing at home,” Anderson said.
Big Spring State Hospital is a 200-bed hospital for people with mental illness in Howard County.
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