Home News Local news Creativity Flows in Art Class for Kids with Disabilities

Creativity Flows in Art Class for Kids with Disabilities


July 19, 2004 – Kyle's talent is drawing Pokemon-like characters, and when his 9-year-old hand puts pencil to paper, he renders them with stunning accuracy. His drawings cover loose pages of paper scattered over his workspace.
"I want to be an animator on the computer someday," Kyle says. Cartoons have played a big role in his creative life up to this point, but Kyle's portfolio has recently expanded to include drawings of lighthouses, historic buildings and landscapes. He shows the new subject matter with quiet pride.
Kyle's new inspiration comes from the Summer Art Institute for children with disabilities at Roy L. Schneider Hospital. The free art institute is sponsored by the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of the Virgin Islands.
Eleven young art students between ages 8 and 15 gather every Saturday for the class. Artist Lucinda Schutt is the instructor, helping to bring out the children's natural talent in creative drawing and painting. Assisting with the program are two student volunteers from the Rotary St. Thomas Good to Go Rotary Scholars Program and Katrina Witt, an associate of Schutt's.
"There's a wide range of challenges," Witt says. Children in the class have disabilities ranging from Autism to Attention Deficit Disorder. Schutt "is an excellent teacher, very patient with the children," Witt adds. "This is a breakthrough for them."
Classes started with the children making Father's Day cards. From there the level of skill has progressed to watercolors. At the end of the session, each student will choose a drawing or painting to be professionally framed for permanent display at the hospital. "The hope is that these kids will become artists who live off their work," Schutt says. "It will give them a sense of pride to know their work is on display."
Schutt says another goal of the program is to get the children excited about art. That mission seems to have been accomplished already – students are routinely there waiting for her when she arrives to set up for class.
"As a child, I would go to every art thing they had," Schutt relates. "Just being around other artists is very valuable." That value is not lost on Kyle, who anxiously awaits other students each week to compare their work.
And through it all, Schutt and her assistants are finding they may be learning more than the students. "These children are very special," Witt says. "We're lucky to have them, because they can teach us a great amount."
This session ends July 31, but Schutt is hoping it will pick it back up in September and run through the school year.
For more information, call Schutt at 775-1023 or the VIUCEDD at 693-1189.

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