Summary

Spark of Brilliance, a non-profit, grass-roots initiative of healing and discovery through the arts, was co-founded in 1999 by Judith Rosenberg and her son, Jay Lefler, in response to Jay’s personal triumph after ferocious effort to live his best life beyond the devastation of mental illness. Judith knew that if Jay could take back his life through connecting to his creative spirit, others could too.

Written by GAC Volunteer Writer Lisa Browning

“I believe that within every person there lies a spark of brilliance.” – Judith Rosenberg

An art sculpture made with natural items as part of the partnership between the Spark of Brilliance and the Guelph Enabling Garden

Spark of Brilliance, a non-profit, grass-roots initiative of healing and discovery through the arts, was co-founded in 1999 by Judith Rosenberg and her son, Jay Lefler, in response to Jay’s personal triumph after ferocious effort to live his best life beyond the devastation of mental illness. Judith knew that if Jay could take back his life through connecting to his creative spirit, others could too. 

She said, “It became increasingly apparent that families and professionals were desperate for a path, outside of the traditional mental health system, as a catalyst for engagement and inspiration, that would include beauty, music, dance, theatre, improv & comedy, literature, photography, joy, socialization and community.”

“Spark” offers three workshops every week, including a virtual session on Mondays tailored to those experiencing isolation, providing a vital link to the community.

A participant painting the windows at CMHA-WW in Kitchener, as part of the Spark of Brilliance “Bird Collision” education session

Moreover, the annual ‘Art Works for Mental Health’ gala stands as a testament to their commitment to empowering local artists with lived experience. This event not only showcases their talent but also serves as a platform for advocacy and awareness. Additionally, they host periodic talent shows and spoken word events, enriching our community with creative expression and storytelling.

As part of their unique holistic approach, they’ve forged a meaningful partnership with the Guelph Enabling Garden and horticulture therapist, Heidi Torreiter. Through this collaboration, participants are immersed in the healing power of nature, seamlessly integrating it into their artistic journeys. 

Now under the umbrella of CMHA Waterloo Wellington/Self Help & Peer Support, and the leadership of Marcey Gray, Spark of Brilliance offers peer-driven, arts-based workshops to adults living with mental health and/or substance use issues. These workshops take place in a safe, welcoming environment in either Guelph or Kitchener, and are offered at no cost to participants. 

For more information about Spark of Brilliance, email Marcey at [email protected] or, go to https://cmhaww.ca/programs/spark-of-brilliance/

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