Author visits Janus Development Services

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Elysia Zollman adds to the drawing under the watchful eye of author Sarah Gerkensmeyer.

For Janus Development Services President/CEO Christina Sorenson, this was a great opportunity for the clients.

Author Sarah Gerkensmeyer sparked Janus clients’ imagination by reading a book and helping them create their own stories March 21 at Janus in Noblesville. Along with Janus clients, the event included guests from The Arc of Boone County.

Gerkensmeyer’s visit was made possible by a grant Janus received from the Indiana Humanities Council for the Novel Conversations Speakers Program. Janus’ mission is to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate and contribute within their communities. Janus initiated a Literacy Program in 2018. 

Gary Spiegel gets help with his writing exercise from author Sarah Gerkensmeyer. (Submitted photos)

“The program has been well-received and has benefited participants by enhancing communication skills and sparking imaginations,” Sorenson said. “In addition to providing opportunities to improve reading skills, the Literacy Program provides additional possibilities for volunteers to read together with Janus clients.”

This was the first time Janus had played host to this type of visit.

“I was told that this was the first time the Humanities Council sponsored a reading for individuals with disabilities,” Sorenson said. “I am under the impression that the reaction was so positive that they will be interested in future opportunities.”

Sorenson said Janus would definitely be interested in conducting more of the events.

Gerkensmeyer, author of “What You Are Now Enjoying,” began by having audience members come up to make a group drawing.

She read to the audience, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” With audience participation led by Gerkensmeyer, they collaborated to develop their own story about the three friendly monsters they had drawn.

Gerkensmeyer, who has taught creative writing courses for 12 years, then led the audience in a series of writing and drawing exercises, including drawing things that made them happy.

A Greencastle resident, Gerkensmeyer was the winner of 2016 Eugene and Marilyn Indiana Authors Award for emerging author.

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