ECFTA offering free space – and a change of scenery – for online learners

ELORA – University, college and high school students who have been doing online learning at home since September, can now enjoy a safe, welcoming and slightly social environment at the Elora Centre for the Arts (ECFTA) to do their work.

Lianne Carter, director of the art centre in downtown Elora, said since it can’t run its normal programs this winter, the board decided to offer the space to students as of Feb. 10 to allow for a change of scenery, if nothing else.

“For the last couple of years, we’ve tried to broaden the definition of art,” Carter said in an interview.

“This is creative space and we always look at our community, determine the needs and try to meet them. That’s our mandate and that’s what we’re doing here.”

Carter said the centre conducted an informal survey before the Christmas break and heard from many parents that it would be great for their student to leave the house once in a while.

So the ECFTA has been revamped, with well-spaced desks, upgraded wifi, a teacher for help and guidance, and all the supplies for a few art projects if they want to burn off some steam in a constructive way.

Many families are juggling computers, struggling with limited internet and perhaps going a little stir-crazy staring at the same four walls.

Carter said she hopes university, college and high school students who have had enough of at-home learning, will consider a change of venue.

“Parents love the idea. We hope students will see the benefits and give it a try,” she said.

“The sun shines in those 15-foot windows, there’s art on the walls, it’s bright and clean and welcoming and supportive.”

Carter said lengthy periods of isolation have led to depression and anxiety among a growing number of students.

So, having a real human to talk to can be beneficial on its own.

But there are art projects to do, too, if a student wants to. Creative outlets can also be mentally healing, she said.

To begin, the program runs Wednesdays and Fridays. Students will either attend Wednesday and Friday mornings, or Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

There is no cost for the program, but reservations are required as space is limited.

Sessions are booked in three-week blocks. If there is enough interest, extra days can be added to accommodate more students.

For more information or to register, visit the ECFTA website.