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A "very special" arts festival.

A "very special" arts festival

Joy In Our Hearts Today Today was the Very Special Arts

Festival... a small child discovered pattern today with his potato prints, he could do it "by himself," even though he had only one hand. A

child legally blind, so her teacher said, could see some color, up close,

and she smiled as she spread her paint with her brayer. Lots of warm smiles and happy children found something special

today. Young adults shared their talents... painting, smiling, shy faces today. Children experienced music and dance by participating...getting

into the music, dancing to the beat,

marching, clapping...fingers busy rolling paint, making patterns, spreading thick, squishy paint with tiny eager hands, making beads, sandcasts

and tie dyes and then...getting to take them all home. Oh what a day!

I HAD JUST WRITTEN MY FIRST poem. I am an art teacher with the Pitt County Schools and I am overwhelmed by an experience I had today. I helped with a "Very Special Arts Festival" for all of the special students in the county. My poem tells of the spontaneous, creative spirit that all children get from participating in the arts.

In early September, over 300 special students participated in a "Very Special Arts Festival" sponsored by the Pitt County schools and partially funded by a grant from the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction and the National Committee of Arts with the Handicapped, now known as Very Special Arts USA. A Very Special Arts Festival provides a non-competitive forum for disabled and nondisabled children, youth and adults to share their accomplishments in the arts with their peers and interested audiences. These festivals have grown from a single event in 1975 to more than 450 festivals today--serving nearly 600,000 people in every state of the nation, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Many of our art, dance and music teachers volunteered their services that day to share their talents with these very special children.

The children were bussed from their individual schools all over Pitt County to a large city park to spend the entire day participating in "hands on" activities in the arts. There was kite making, face painting, funny goggles, balloon animals, plaster casting, tie-dyeing, rubber stamp art, collage, gadget printing and media painting on three large canvasses. Guest artists demonstrated ceramics, glass blowing, spinning and weaving. Local clowns volunteered their funny business all day and one of the county high school bands provided music.

Dance and music teachers taught dancing and singing and rhythm activities to groups of children. There was also storytelling by local writers in the community. Many high school students accompanied their art teachers that day and volunteered their services, too. One of the high school mime groups provided a continuous "act" all day and this was enjoyed by all. A nearby fastfood restaurant provided cookies and juice for our picnic lunch.

Each year the arts teachers that are involved with the "Special Arts Festival" request to be included in these activities the following year. There is such a wonderful feeling of togetherness and love from sharing in these "hands on" arts activities that it makes it all worthwhile! Being arts teachers and being able to share our talents with these children is the most wonderful thing in the world.
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Title Annotation:disabled and non-disabled working together
Author:Whitehead, Emmy
Publication:School Arts
Date:Mar 1, 1989
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