ACA Arts & Wellness

In 2012, Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA) established its cutting-edge Arts & Wellness initiative that reaches out to all generations by connecting community health to the arts. With generous support from foundations and donors, ACA is at the forefront of producing innovative resources in the field of arts and health. With initial support from the National Center for Creative Aging, ACA has expanded its Arts & Wellness initiative to serve the needs of the Central Florida community. These programs improve mental and physical health, offer creative solutions to overcome age and disability discrimination, prevent loneliness and isolation, and support healthy living from a holistic perspective. ACA works with a dedicated team of community artists, music therapists, art therapists, and volunteers to establish ongoing dynamic programs to increase the health and wellness of elders, caregivers, veterans, active adults, youth, and artists. These Arts & Wellness ambassadors advocate for accessibility and inclusion by supporting people of every generation to explore their “inner artists” and learn from one another.

ACA Arts & Wellness programs include:

  • Veteran and elder-care outreach programs that incorporate poetry, painting, music, and movement to encourage mental stimulation, socialization, and manage chronic pain.
  • Creative resources that assist caregivers and care partners in facing specific challenges as they navigate this phase of life.
  • Youth outreach programs that relieve stress, build self-esteem and strengthen social relationships in lower-income communities, youth in foster homes, and wider populations of at-risk youth in Volusia County.
  • Public workshops and retreats, including intuitive painting, expressive journaling, movement and dance, puppetry, music for the mind, and creative writing.
  • Skill-building workshops for healthcare professionals and educational institutions.
  • Internship opportunities for medical, arts, science, and psychology students.

Please contact us to find out more about joining a program, or custom opportunities for your organization. | 386.423.1753

 For full program details visit our Calendar of Events

ACA Arts & Wellness Ambassadors

Lauraheadshot Laura K. Bohn is a professional artist, art educator and art therapist MAAT. She recently completed her Master’s degree in Art Therapy in December 2014. She has been an art educator for many years and is now an art therapist available for facilitating art and wellness workshops. She has exhibited at the Florida Museum for Women Artists, De Land Museum of Art, IGM gallery in Los Angeles and Wolfe Gallery in De Land, Florida.  Some of the art festivals she has exhibited at includes IMAGES, Mount Dora, Gaspiralla, De Land, and Maitland.  Laura has taught classes and workshops at De Land Museum of Art, Ormond Memorial Museum of Art, The Hub, Casa Montessori School and Children’s House Montessori School, and now shares her talent at Atlantic Center for the Arts leading workshops in expressive arts.

vicki gross headshot Vicki Gross (MT-BC) is a graduate of Florida State University, and has made a career of practicing music therapy. She has worked at ACT Corp. (which was The Human Resource Center) in the Daytona Beach service area as a day treatment and social network counselor, and ran the first Adult Day Care Center (Extended Family) in New Smyrna Beach, FL. In the year 2000, her personal practice, Comprehensive Music Therapy Services was created to bring services to the East Central Florida community.  Center Schools in Volusia County were being disbanded as disabled children were being accommodated in contained classrooms in regular schools throughout the county and a new music therapy career challenge presented itself.  Over the past 14 years, she has served many people and programs including intellectually challenged residents of The Duvall Home, the Homeless Day Treatment Program in Deland, children in foster care, elderly residents of area nursing homes and assisted living facilities, hospice patients and more. The main thing Vicki wants to convey is that her passion for music therapy is ever present.  She is humbled by the many people who understand and love the power of music, the way music can express when words can’t, and how music can create, establish and renew life and relationships.

Ashleee Hughes Ashlee Hughes is a graduate of The School of Music at Florida State University and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy. Ashlee is also proud to be a second generation music therapist where she has the experience from the pioneer music therapists like her mother, Vicki Gross. As a professional music therapist, Ashlee has over eight years of experience in serving a variety of populations, including special needs, hospice, acute care medical, premature infants, traumatic brain injury, trauma, stroke, dementia, behavioral health, substance abuse, foster children, juvenile detention, and more. She brings her diverse experience in music, visual arts, and healthcare to ACA Arts & Wellness as a way to connect creativity and community health.

MBMcLatchey  M.B. McLatchey currently serves as one of Florida’s Poet Laureates for Volusia County and is the recipient of the 2011 American Poet Prize. She was recently selected as a Writer-in-the-Spotlight by the national Association of Writers & Writing Programs:  A widely-published author and the recipient of several national literary awards, including theMay Swenson Award for her book of poems, The Lame God, published by Utah State University Press, M.B. is a professor of Classics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. She completed her graduate work in literature and teaching at Harvard University and Brown University and the M.F.A. in Poetry at Goddard College. Find her at:

BethanyheadshotBethany Bennett is an interdisciplinary artist who earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Central Florida and her Masters of Fine Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The art work she produces question women’s equality and role in society. Her investment in the community is to boost others confidence and self-worth through artistic practices. Currently she works with the Children’s Home Society of Florida and Atlantic Center for the Arts, offering art courses to children in group homes.

77013_orig Rachel Chase has been a teaching artist since the age of 15. She began expressing through dance. First a classically trained ballerina, then a semi-professional modern dancer studying with the likes of Alvin Ailey dance company, and dancing professionally in the Orlando area; as well as trained in theater arts. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida with a bachelor of fine arts, integrating video art and performance, as well as painting and printmaking.  Rachel has continued teaching movement and art to children and adults in community settings for over 15 years. She is currently working toward her Master’s degree in mental health counseling at Rollins College. As a therapist, she continues using expressive and visual arts as therapeutic processes, assisting others on their journey to well-being and wholeness. It is the power of play and creative expression that have always propelled her life into new and uncharted territory. She is constantly creating, and has a passion for consciously creating community. Join her in this ever-evolving process of intuitive creation.

ACA_BabeJames Shy Morris, Atlantic Center for the Arts Community Artist is an integral part of ACA’s ongoing efforts offer unique art related programming to New Smyrna Beach. Shy draws upon her vast experience as a community based artist, including three years working with ACA Master Artist and MacArthur Genius Award Recipient Rick Lowe at Project Row Houses in Houston. She also has an educational background in early childhood studies, and creates fun, thoughtful art programming designed to encourage and educate children, teens, and adults.

C0SCaPOWQAA0B7k Eve Payor joined Atlantic Center for the Arts as a musician and electronic soundscape artist. Her arts advocacy focuses on the connection between music, environment, and wellness. In the Fall of 2016, she created an Arts &Wellness program of soundwalks, which gave the public opportunities to experience natural surroundings through listening techniques, meditative breathing, and mindfulness.  Eve also mentors youth to help them find their creative spark, develop professionalism, and real-world assets for careers in the arts.

Robert SabljakRobert Sabljak, A.P. owns and operates his Pathway to Healing Acupuncture and Massage Therapy practice in New Smyrna Beach. He has been practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine and teaching Tai Chi for 23 years. As an acupuncture physician, Robert’s practice also includes nutrition counseling and exercise programs as key components in his treatment plans. Robert studied Tai Chi while attending the Shanghai Institute and he recommends this as a remarkable exercise for combining cardiovascular activity while improving strength and balance as well as stress reduction. Understanding that the leading cause of injury in elders are falls, the A.A.R.P. promotes the use of Tai Chi for its ability to strengthen and improve balance.

Janice pic Janice Stieber Rous is the creator of Body Dialogue, an integrative therapeutic system that reorganizes the body and develops a new mental feedback process that eliminates habitual dysfunctional movement patterns. It is a form of movement re-education that draws on the wisdom of the following systems: Alexander Technique, Stough Breathing Coordination, Qi Gong, and Yoga and Body Soul Rhythms (based on Jungian psychology and the work of Marian Woodman).  She teaches internationally, and has been conducting women’s retreats of this nature since 2003.  Janice is a former dancer, studying with the Martha Graham company since the age of twelve. She graduated in 1972 from Sarah Lawrence College, and holds a Master’s degree from Bank Street School of Education in Arts Education and Administration.  Her specialty has been arts and wellness from the inception of her private practice in 1981. As a former New Yorker, she continues her practice in New York City (having worked with the Manhattan School of Music, Joffrey Ballet, and Julliard) and has expanded her services to Orlando. Janice has worked with several ACA Master Artists, and currently teaches at UCF music school and Opera Orlando.

Morgan Kelly Morgan Kelly is a professional teaching artist with a passion for puppetry. She has taught in Florida, New York, New Jersey, and holds a Master’s degree in Educational Theater from NYU. Morgan has worked with youth and families in a diverse array of puppetry artforms from theater performance to traditional folk archetypes. She explores themes of arts, wellness and personal transformation within the expressive and surreal possibilities of puppetry.

Thanks to our supporters and partners!

The Pabst Steinmetz Foundation – Mind. Body. Spirit. The Pabst Steinmetz Foundation is a leader in fostering awareness and action for the growing belief and field of work that integrates creativity arts, wellness, and health, particularly when illness strikes families. Our mission, identifying both interdisciplinary and innovative initiatives for impact on community, continues to foster development and research on outcomes that can make a difference for people, especially families challenged by illness.  Learn more


Brown & Brown Insurance – The company that was to become Brown & Brown Insurance was founded in Daytona Beach in 1939 by two cousins, J. Adrian Brown and Charles Covington Owen. Under the direction of Adrian Brown’s son, Hyatt, a unique corporate culture has been created which values individual initiative and instills an indomitable “can do” attitude in its employees. B&B is acclaimed as, arguably, the most efficient operating platform in the insurance brokerage business, delivering high quality placement and service to a broad array of accounts. This, coupled with a precise, focused acquisition strategy helped Brown & Brown become one of the insurance industry’s most powerful and influential leaders.


AdventHealth New Smyrna – Same doctors you trust. Same care you love. Now coming together as AdventHealth — one unified system with one collaborative focus on your whole-person health. Whole-person health means a more personal level of care than ever before — physically, emotionally and spiritually. Experience compassion, expertise and world-class resources with access to some of the nation’s best services. We’re here to heal what hurts, ease your mind and encourage your spirit.


AdventHealth Foundation – ACA has received $5,000 from AdventHealth Foundation to continue and expand its Arts & Wellness program – the Healthy Minds/Healthy Hearts outreach in our local schools.

Wildcat Wellness Wednesdays is designed for fifth graders at Chisholm Elementary, and uses art and creative conversations to take a deeper look at bullying and how they can be use positive affirmations to mirror respect and peace at home, in school and in their community.

Feel Great Fridays takes place each week at New Smyrna Beach High School. Each Friday, wellness activities are set up to help students de-stress from a busy week. Everyone can participate: staff, students, parents, and special groups. Once a month the special needs students can also participate in developmentally appropriate activities.