A Bright and Meaningful Future

Angela Carroll-Wallace - Student Story

Angela Carroll-Wallace grew up in a military family, describing herself as being from “many places”. Since having a family of her own, she says this has influenced a continuation of “this kind of nomadic trajectory”.

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Angela moved to BC in 2005, largely due to her youngest child’s physical disabilities. They chose the Sunshine Coast for it’s temperate climate; the snow and ice prevalent elsewhere in Canada created too much of a barrier with her daughter’s disabilities.

“Temperate climate options in Canada are pretty small but on the Sunshine Coast we found abundant natural beauty alongside a creative and connected community. We lived in Robert’s Creek for 8 years before moving to Vancouver.”

Angela has always been passionate about education and chose to home-school her daughter after she finished Grade 2.

“The existing school options were not able to answer her needs to become a lifelong learner, which is what I believe should be the underlying aspiration no matter how we decide to educate our children. It was a difficult, amazing, boring, stimulating, sometimes lonely and always a resource building path to be a homeschool parent, especially the way we did it which is through an unschooling perspective and eventually in a distance learning curriculum for secondary school.”

Towards the end of their homeschooling journey, Angela and her daughter made conscious choices to pursue their individual dreams.

“I had spent many years in various volunteer positions working with children with challenges and I was an artist, first as a photographer with a degree from Ryerson University and later as a painter and writer. I wondered if there was some ‘thing’ out there that could meld the two sides of my calling.”

At the beginning of 2013 she discovered Expressive Arts (EXA) and met with Heather Dawson, Program Director at the Vancouver School of Expressive Arts. “The rest is history,” Angela said. “Within months I was in Switzerland at the European Graduate School (EGS). I returned to Vancouver, began the Master’s program and successfully defended my thesis at EGS in 2015.”

Soon after graduating Angela built a private practice out of her studio in Vancouver. “I facilitate an array of creative expressive arts workshops with groups of adults and have a growing roster of children, youth and adults as individual clients that I am honoured to work with,” Angela said.

Angela also continues to work with the Developmental Disability Association, Blind Beginnings, The Lower Mainland Down Syndrome Society, and recently the Tapestry Parkinson’s Support Group. “I am looking forward to traveling once again to Peru to work with EquipKids International in the spring, bringing expressive arts to groups of children with disabilities who have never had the opportunity to play and express themselves through art.”

Despite calling herself an artist and now Expressive Arts Therapist for many years, Angela said she continues to be amazed and gratified at the healing power of the arts.

“I have witnessed families close to hopelessness begin to see their child in new ways. I have been part of a group of visually impaired kids who learned a flash mob choreography for over a year because they believed in their rights to make art. I have held the hands and space for a circle of women who had felt like no one saw them anymore and were only able to acknowledge their own spirit and wisdom when they could witness their art creations as proof they matter.”

Angela says she is passionate about bringing hope to families and individuals and believes in the necessity for all peoples to know they are not alone. “There was a time when I felt like I had a list of crisis, wounds and challenges too long for anyone or anything to touch. It made me feel comfortable hiding in the shadows and apologising for my own space in the world.”

One of Angela’s favourite parts of EXA is that it offers a low barrier, equalizing, sensitizing and inviting way to touch, notice and name those essential components for individual and community health and wellness.

“I am excited to be part of this growing field and see a bright and deeply meaningful future of arts based therapy and research. Now more than ever we need the arts to help us connect with each other, believe in our self-worth and to imbue generations with healing and hope.”