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Arts Horizons Special Education Academy Awarded 2011 Flutie Foundation Grant

Arts Horizons’ Special Education Artist Academy (SEAA) is a proud 2011 recipient of the Flutie Foundation Grant.

The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation is dedicated to increasing awareness and improving the quality of life for people and families living with autism. Part of their mission is to fund advocacy programs as well as educational, therapeutic, and recreational opportunities. Annually, the Foundation awards grants to non-profit organizations and schools that provide services, education and advocacy for children living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

SEAA, now in its 5th season, will use this grant to continue its intensive training for teaching artists through theater, dance and visual arts programs for students with autism in NYC Department of Special Education, District 75.  Training includes mentorship, practicum experience and professional development for best practices in special education and the arts. To learn more and see a video about SEAA, click here.

We would like to thank the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for supporting our efforts!

For more information contact, Dena Malarek:

Dena Malarek,
Director, Special Populations and NYC Residencies

NJ Phone: 201-567-1766 * 108
NY Phone: 212-268-7219 * 108
Fax: 201-567-5312

Arts Horizons Receives Grant From New York Community Trust For Artbeat Program

Arts Horizons, one of the largest arts-in-education organizations in the New York/Metropolitan area, has been awarded a $25,000 grant for its ArtBeat program. ArtBeat brings teaching artists to work with young people ages 11 to 21, in four hospitals throughout New York City.

The one-year grant ensures that ArtBeat can continue to provide music and painting, drawing, quilt and mural-making to special education children hospitalized for orthopedic, psychiatric and other medical issues. The hospitals in the program are Kingsbrook Memorial and Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, Mount Sinai in Manhattan, and Bronx Lebanon Hospital in the Bronx.

“Our partnership with Hospital Schools is an exciting and unique collaboration that merges arts, health care and special education,” says Dena Malarek, Arts Horizons Director, Special Populations and NYC Residencies.

“By bringing professional artists into hospitals, we are helping patients at a critical time by sparking creativity, and supporting learning and healing. Beyond these documented benefits of arts in health care, it is the humanizing effect that arts can bring to an individual, family, and hospital community in the time of medical uncertainty, that is truly meaningful and important.”

The grant from The New York Community Trust is from the DeWitt Wallace Fund for Youth in The Trust. DeWitt and his wife founded Reader’s Digest.

“We hope that this grant brings joy to a special community of young New Yorkers,” said Kerry McCarthy, program officer at The New York Community Trust. “Arts programming has transformational powers and is a vitally important part of the healing process.”

Through the Eyes of an Artist: Tira D. Bluestone

ArtBeat, is a unique partnership between Arts Horizons, NYC Hospitals, and the NYC Department of Education. Through music education workshops, ArtBeat brings arts-rich, safe, creative educational and emotionally uplifting environments to young students who are hospitalized for extended periods of time.

The artist of ArtBeat design music and visual art activities that will transform the hospital stay into a creative and healing opportunity, inspiring the children, helping them cope while also achieving educational goals by correlating activities to curriculum.

Tira Bluestone, a wonderful ArtBeat program artist, visited Kingsbrook Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Read her story below.

Review of Kingsbrook Hospital visit
For Arts Horizons
By Tira D. Bluestone

It was a rainy, miserable day in April on my first visit to the Kingsbrook Hospital in Brooklyn. After an hour-long subway ride, plus an additional 25 minutes more on the bus, I finally arrived at the hospital, carrying my guitar, computer and slightly drenched backpack full of books and cd’s to play for the kids.

The children were wheeled into the room tilted back in their wheelchairs by attendants. None of the 15-20 children had the capability to move, walk or talk. I was determined to elicit a response, from each one of them, even if it was just by moving their mouth. If they were completely immobile, they were encouraged to expand their imagination by jumping to the music in their minds’ eye. The children responded enthusiastically with smiles to the exercises. One of the children was inspired to reach his arms overhead, as if to shoot a basket, exhibiting an undeniable coherent response.

On the second visit I integrated different exercises that included dancing till the music stops. Another included a mirror reflecting the color of the child’s shirt, with everyone encouraged to sing along about the color. The “Hello Song” and “Good Bye Song” related to each child individually and each was made to feel alive. Their active participation spoke for itself. It represented the positive effect that the visit had on the children and on the attendants as well.

The bed-ridden children who could not join the group, were visited bedside along with bubbles, tambourines, and personalized attention through song. The patients responded with a joyful exuberance, such as had never been seen before. Each child was made to feel special, and encouraged to become aware, and a part of group activities participating actively. Every child got involved in the group activities responding individually and with each other.

On the third visit, I introduced a cloth “roll-out” piano. Each child played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” When they could not move their hands, they used their toes to play the piano! There was not a single student in the room who was not made to feel proud of their first solo piano performance! The applause encouraged them as well!
I hope my visits have inspired the teachers to work more creatively with the students and patients, accomplishing the task for Arts Horizons.

The hospital requested more visits and I strongly believe/suggest that further visits will enhance even more progress and growth, in both the staff and more importantly, the children. At the end of the day, the sun was shining inside the hospital through the smiles of the children!

To learn more about our work in hospital schools contact Dena Malarek ( and to support our work in hospital schools, vote for Arts Horizons in the Pepsi Refresh Project. Cast your daily vote at

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