ESSEX, Conn. (WTNH) — African penguins from Mystic Aquarium are bringing smiles to kids that visit The Mayer Center in Essex with penguin paintings. The penguins themselves create these framed pieces of artwork.
“We hope the paintings just exemplify the fun that happens in this space,” Brian Taber, the director of physical rehabilitation at the center, said. “Yes, there’s a lot of work that happens in here, but really what we want is the kids leaving saying I had fun at therapy.”
The facility provides developmental services to children and adolescents with developmental challenges. The Mayer Center opened in November to fill a need in the state for the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders.
“Other facilities have waiting lists that are years, if not months long,” Taber said.
On Wednesday, two African penguins and aquarium staff visited the center to donate the paintings and visit with the team and kids. The gathering was enriching for the kids and the penguins.
“They get to see a new environment, they work one on one with myself and our volunteer, so it helps to build those relationships and those trust bonds,” Josh Davis, the assistant supervisor of penguins at Mystic Aquarium, said.
African penguins are an endangered species, and the aquarium is home to 30 of them. Davis said teaching the penguins how to paint improves their health and well-being.
“We train them for their health care, and part of that is to show us the bottoms of their feet,” Davis said. “We can practice the sensation of applying ointment if we ever had to.”
The Mayer Center is a service of Middlesex Health.