Pilot Art Pod program designed for special needs youth
Driving back home to Petrolia Ethan Currie, his mom says, tells them he can’t wait to tell his friends about what he made at art class.
“Not every child is an athlete and having this program available for kids with special needs lets them have the opportunity to participate in after school activities, just like their friends,” said Currie’s mom Katharine, in an email.
“When Ethan’s hearing his friends talk about their hockey game or getting ready for baseball season, Ethan’s able to share his story about what he did at Art Pod,” she said.
Currie was one in a group pressing leaf prints with printing ink at the Judith and Alix Norman Art Gallery (JNAAG) in Sarnia Thursday.
It was the third of four pilot classes in the gallery’s Art Pot program – specifically tailored art-making for youngsters with special needs.
Before the pilot started in March, there wasn’t much at all for kids with special needs to do in the community, said Currie’s mom.
“We jumped at the chance,” she said.
Hopes are it carries on past the final session April 5, she said.
She might get her wish.
“We’re hoping to run these on a monthly basis going forward,” said Anna Miccolis, community and art education co-ordinator with the gallery.
Turnout has been solid since the program kicked off, she said, noting Art Pod was created, via a partnership with Pathways Health Centre for Children, to make art more accessible for kids with special needs.
“We’ve also established that there is a need for programming for adults on the (autism) spectrum, so we’ll be looking into developing some programming around that as well,” she said.
The current $25-per-class program is for 9-16-year-olds, she said, and the gallery has created a “social story” – with photos and explanations about everything from walking in and hanging up coats, to taking part in the art activity – so participants aren’t caught off guard.
Spots are still available, she said.
“We’re hoping to get some more interest in the future to run some more programs with our families,” said Amy Spadafora, a recreational therapist at Pathways who helped plan and develop Art Pod with Miccolis.
“We want to make sure … all areas of leisure and rec (are available) for our clients,” she said, so they have opportunities “just like anyone else.”
By Tyler Kula, Sarnia Observer