ACA Arts & Wellness

ACA offers professional development that shares its method for successfully delivering Arts & Wellness experiences which connect the arts to community health. We offer two options:
In Person Academy – 3 days with ACA artist ambassadors, community networking, experiential workshops, consultation, and access to all online content.
Visit the Calendar of Events for schedule
Virtual Academy – available at

Participants will learn:

  • The ACA Five Phases of an Arts & Wellness Experience (guiding method for facilitating creative group connection).
  • How to design programs for diverse audiences and facilitate arts experiences in wellness.
  • How facilitators can enhance listening skills to create a restorative setting.
  • Ways to offer creative tools for resilience.
  • Approaches to reframe challenges as opportunities.
  • The cyclical process of integrating research and mentorship into programs for your community.

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.
  • ACA Arts & Wellness Academy customized seminar for healthcare professionals, teaching artists, community program coordinators 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

ACA Arts & Wellness Ambassadors in the Central Florida community

Lauraheadshot Laura K. Bohn is a professional artist, art educator and ATR registered art therapist. 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.

Monica Vidal is an internationally accredited psychologist, certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming master practitioner, corporate training specialist, and public speaker. Combining her years of experience in helping and training people with her lifelong passion for art, she has found an enjoyable and effective way of navigating our feelings when losing a loved one. The expression of love through the creation of art honors the life and memory of a special person in our lives while we learn to regain our own purpose in life. Monica is originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and she has traveled extensively, admiring and being inspired by art in cities from Los Angeles and Paris to Dubai, as well as many in South America. Her main art mediums are fabric and yarn. She has learned that art isn’t just something pretty to look at. It takes on a life of its own through the hands that created it and it becomes a beautiful expression of their souls. Art has always been a part of her life in many ways, and she couldn’t be happier combining that with her deep passion for helping people. She loves to be a guide and an inspiration to others.

Justin Lang (aka Justincredible) joined ACA in 2019 as a creative arts teacher and ambassador. He inspires youth to find their spark and build confidence in their unique voice through creative expression. He was born in North Miami, FL and raised in Dade & Broward County, FL. His grandfather was a traveling Jazz Band Saxophone Player and his parents sang and played instruments growing up. So he did as well. Justin’s mom and dad introduced him to R&B, Soul, Jazz, and Gospel music. As a kid listening to the radio, he was introduced to Hip-Hop and Rock music which lit a HUGE spark in him! In high school Justin began to write poetry as a way of expressing his teenage frustrations and as stress relief. Shortly after, he began recording music in the garage alongside a local artist group in Miramar, FL. Soon after that, he started to win rap battles, talent contests, and released EPs in South & Central Florida. As a graduate of the University of Central Florida, he won multiple talent competitions and created radio intros for established DJs. Since graduation, he has been a Lead Creative Writer for several organizations, overseen #GREATNESS: Behind the Scenes (a Creative Arts Mentorship program), held teaching & counseling positions throughout Central Florida, and was ranked 15th in the United States Blackberry Peach National Poetry Slam competition.

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 artwork 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 is a professor at Daytona State College and leads community outreach at Atlantic Center for the Arts.







Practicing for 17 years in Florida, Dr. Eileen Hernandez is an innovative board certified Obstetrics and Gynecology physician, who is also an exhibiting mixed media abstract artist. Currently an ACA Arts & Wellness Ambassador, she has experience participating in nine exhibitions and pioneered her Calming Totems program with ACA and Orlando Health. Dr. Hernandez is a recent recipient of the “Celebrating the Genius of Women” Award 2022 Art Competition, Women in the Arts, Inc. She exhibited at the Art and History Museum of Maitland and was invited to be a virtual artist guest speaker in 2021. As a practicing physician she uses her analytical mind to express herself scientifically art enables her to combine this thought process with her creative side to create abstract works that appeal to many. She takes her inspiration from the colors and textures that she sees throughout the world. Dr. Hernandez embodies the healing feminism that she sees in her life and embeds this theme within her art pieces to give them movement. She finds that the act of creating art enables her to achieve a state of mindfulness and an ability to be content. Embracing her artist self, she has used painting as a healthy tool for coping with the demands of being a healthcare professional. Art has become therapeutic and a form of her own healing. “Look around you, inspiration is everywhere, then go create and find your own way to heal.” –Eileen Hernández

Award winning poet Sonja Jean Craig, Secretary of Florida State Poets Association,  has been certified by Florida State Poets Association for completion of the Twelve Chairs Poetry Course.  She is published in several anthologies including Isolation Challenge, FSPA’s Cadence,  Fresh Fish, Poetic Visions and FWA’s Collection. Her guidance cards, A Love Affaire With Life, includes her poetry and photographs. Sonja Jean lives a life of magic and wonder in beautiful New Smyrna Beach with her beloved cats and poetic perspective.






Sauda Jackson has used art as a way to break down barriers to communication and to provide tools for building self-esteem. She leads arts, dance and empowerment groups in her local community. Ms. Jackson has developed an empowering ritual for all to use, The Universal Hug. Through the Universal Hug, participants are given an opportunity to slow down, breathe, ground, tap into their own power, focus on gratitude, release tension, to remember their heart’s desires, to remember to be compassionate with themselves and to emotionally reset. All are encouraged to use this tool often and to share it widely.






Alabama local, Daria Hammond creates work that has the power to transform minds and transform the environment, helps her to recognize and identify with her purpose as an intermediary to intercede. So, she sees her work as a message of hope and healing and something unforced but, unavoidable—graceful but, powerful.





Peggy Imbert
has helped ACA realize its Arts & Wellness Initiative in the community since 2014. She is a fiber artist and uses her crafting skills to design easily accessible projects for each of her programs. Alongside Mary McBride, she pioneered techniques and best practices for working with elders who navigate cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Her background as a entrepreneur in local childcare has given her the foundation to build activities for multi-generational programs in the community. Peggy leads the ACA Summer Art Camp and has facilitated Creative Caregiving and Creative Aging with Oceanview Nursing and Rehabilitation in New Smyrna Beach.

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 holds a Masters degree in clinical mental health counseling from 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.

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.

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. Eve advocates for 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.

Thank You to our Arts & Wellness Sponsors !