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Resident Artists Reap Creative, Social and Cognitive Benefits at Amavida

FORT MYERS, FL–At Amavida, the Fort Myers active adult community developed by international real estate development, investment and management firm Quadrum Global, residents are exploring their artistic side in the community’s very own art studio – guided by a pair of well-qualified, eager-to-help “artists in residence.”

Amavida artists Flo Collins and Belinda O’Donnell, both of whom are among Amavida’s first residents, have embraced the role of teacher by encouraging and helping fellow residents develop their creative skills.

Collins, who moved into Amavida with her husband Jim, discovered her own talent 20 years ago in an adult education class in art. Drawing led to painting and a passion for pastels and acrylics.

“Since then, I’ve taken numerous classes in all forms of art, because I think one feeds the other,” said Collins, who studied acrylics under Charles Gruppe in Michigan.

For her inaugural class, Collins taught six Amavida resident-students abstract acrylics over a four-week period. To showcase their works of art, Amavida staff organized an artists’ reception with refreshments, music and a lobby art show that resulted in the sale of several pieces.

Ten students signed up for Collins’ landscape class that culminated in a September art show, and there is a wait list for future classes. Next up is a palette knife class, and Collins is creating reference paintings to guide the budding artists.

“Residents who want to take classes all tell me they can’t paint, and I say ‘Good!’” said Collins. “It’s easier to teach you how to paint than if you already think you know how to paint. We have fun. That’s the main thing about painting – you enjoy it, and don’t have any expectations when you go into it, and it produces fabulous results when you do it that way.”

Belinda O’Donnell, who learned the craft of glass art from Master Glass Artist Tanya Veit in Cape Coral, was delighted to share her personal collection of molds, kilns and glass-making supplies with Amavida’s residents when she and her husband Charlie moved in.

“Working with glass is relaxing, and it keeps the mind sharp too as you remember formulas and create color combinations,” said O’Donnell.

O’Donnell’s glimmering glass creations adorn the studio to serve as inspiration, from jewelry pieces to decorative dishes. She works one-on-one with any resident who wants to try their hand at the craft.

She said that she’s introduced ten residents to the art of glass work, and she’s encouraging more to explore their creativity in the art studio, whether it’s glass, painting, crochet, coloring or card making.

“When people say they aren’t artistic, I tell them if they’ve ever matched their clothes or decorated a room, it’s the same thing. Just think of it as playing – find something that feels good and excites you!” O’Donnell said.

Colin Marshall, Quadrum Global’s president of senior living management, said including an art studio was an integral element when they were planning Amavida’s design.

“We value the arts, and we know the important role creativity plays in supporting our residents in body, mind and spirit,” said Marshall.

In a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts report, “Staying Engaged: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Engage in the Arts,” University of Michigan researchers studied participation habits, attitudes toward the arts, and related health characteristics of adults age 55 and older.

They found that 64% create art of their own, 68.7% have attended arts events and 48.6% both created art and attended events. Older adults who both created art and attended arts events reported higher cognitive functioning and lower rates of hypertension, and their cognitive functioning scores were sevenfold higher than for adults who did neither type of arts activity.

“Amavida’s art room is for everyone to use; you just have to go in there and be creative. I think a lot of people are very hesitant because they think they’re not an “artist,” but you don’t have to be. You just have to have fun,” said Collins.

Amavida – whose name translates to “a love of life” – boasts a resort vibe, rather than a traditional “retirement community” feel. At Amavida, people of all ages can remain as active as they want to, and the community provides plenty of ways for them to stay fit, connect with their neighbors, continue learning and otherwise enjoy life in Southwest Florida.

Amavida offers 300 independent living, 125 assisted living and 35 memory care units. Residents interested in independent living can choose from a cottage or apartment. Cottage floor plans range from 1,500 to 1,700 square feet and feature two to three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a garage with extra space for a golf cart. Five independent living apartment options range from 616 to 1,054 square feet. Three assisted living apartment designs range from 437 to 790 square feet, and a 402-square-foot floor plan is offered for memory care residents.

The various living choices provide residents with options should their health care needs change. A nursing team is also available to Amavida residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as an on-site pharmacy and medical clinic with robust services. In addition, Amavida’s idyllic location provides residents with close proximity to numerous medical facilities.

Amavida is an active adult rental community offering resort-style living with 300 independent living cottages and apartments, 125 assisted living, and 34 memory care apartments. Conveniently located at 7650 Gladiolus Drive in Fort Myers, between Summerlin Road and U.S. 41, community tours are available by walk-in or appointment. The Amavida Welcome Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Quadrum Global is an international real estate development, investment and management firm. Quadrum has been investing in world-class real estate since 2005. The company initially developed as part of the Cube Capital Group, an alternative investment house, and became independent after a spinoff in 2013. Quadrum Global seeks to unlock distressed and repositioning opportunities in developed markets with particular focus on the U.S., as well as greenfield development projects and special situations in select emerging markets.