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VSA-VAD: Visualizing & Realizing Artistic Potential in Students with Special Needs

Arts Horizons is pleased to highlight and recognize our arts education programs under contract with John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Department of VSA and Accessibility. During this academic year, Arts Horizons has been contracted for 4 visual arts residencies at District 75 and Hospital schools in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx through the VSA Children’s Visual Arts Discovery program (VSA-VAD). The schools are:  PS 226M @ PS 76M (A. Philip Randolph) in Manhattan, PS 188X @ PS 34X in the Bronx, Queens Transition Center @ High School for Law Enforcement & Public Safety in Queens, and Hospital Schools @ Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.

Through VSA-VAD, Arts Horizons provided approximately 8 hours of instruction per student at each of the schools listed above. Our residencies fulfilled VSA-VAD’s aim “to build students’ skills through the application of sound pedagogical principals and quality curricula to create original words of visual art and the opportunity to explore one more visual arts media and genres.” They also aligned well with the Kennedy Center’s overarching theme for this year:  UBUNTU:  Yo Soy…Je suis…I am…Because you are. Ubuntu, which roughly translates to “humanity towards others” in the Nguni Bantu languages of Southern Africa, focuses on art’s unique ability to “create and sustain connections across race, culture, religion, and experience.” An added incentive for students was the opportunity to submit work to be showcased at the Kennedy Center’s “International Art Program for Children with Disabilities” live and online exhibitions in Washington D.C.

Longtime AH Teaching Artist Mr. Mansa Mussa and renowned Staten Island-based visual artist Ms. Sarah Yuster conducted successful and highly-regarded visual arts residencies this year. Mansa is a New Jersey-based visual and performing artist, educator, and consultant who recently celebrated his 20th year with Arts Horizons. Sarah is known for her paintings of urban landscapes and portraits as well as her “Small Truths” film project which documents the experiences of immigration through the eyes of children. AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had the opportunity to visit their classes and observe how they inspired students to showcase their creativity through compelling visual arts projects. Let’s take a quick peek into their classes!

We start with Sarah’s residency for Queens Transition Center at High School for Law Enforcement and Public Safety. This District 75 school primarily serves high school students with Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) along with documented cases of violence and/or clinically diagnosed mental disorders. Visual art is effective among such students when it promotes creativity in a minimally triggering or volatile environment. Sarah was a nurturing, patient, and gentle instructor, and she was able to introduce her students to life drawing, action sketching, portraiture, and mixed media. According to Sarah, “once it became clear that [students] could delve into a personal endeavor of their choosing, many of them came in week after week to carefully attend a singular piece.” As a result, Sarah was able to submit several beautiful pieces for the Kennedy Center’s exhibition!

Mansa’s visual arts residency for District 75 elementary school PS 226M at PS 76M was devoted to collage-making. This artistic medium effectively showcases artistic creativity with easy-to-use materials such as stickers, stamps, gluesticks, and porous papers. Therefore, it is age-appropriate and safe for elementary school students with special needs and disabilities. Mansa is appreciated for his sensitive approach to teaching students in Hospital Schools and District 75 as well as his ability to pace classes without unnecessary wasting of time and/or art supplies. In this class, students spent the period adding an additional layer of 3-D objects made from grooved sticks and porous paper to their collages with the able assistance of teachers and paraprofessional educators. He even had students photograph their work using his iPad at the end of class!

Mansa also delivered visual arts residencies through VSA-VAD at PS 188X @ PS 34X and Hospital Schools @ Kings County Hospital. As one of our senior-most teaching artists, he will be representing Arts Horizons at the Kennedy Center’s VSA Interactions:  Arts and Special Education Conference in August!

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Hip Hop History: Songwriting, Beatboxing and Graffiti Art with Mr. D. Cross

CD and hospital braceletThis marks the 4th year of Arts Horizons programs at Mt. Sinai Hospital (Manhattan)  in collaboration with NYC DOE Hospital Schools.  Music and Dance teaching artists visit the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient Services to deliver programs for each designated unit to provide educational, artistic and healing outlets for students in crisis with extended hospital stays.  This program is provided u
nder contract with VSA and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 

 

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 Teaching Artist Mr. Derick Cross returns to provide a Hip Hop History program over 10 weeks where students had the opportunity to create music with their mouths (beatboxing), write various forms of poetry, and create Graffiti influenced art, and learn how to make improvised songs versus structured songs.

 

 Mr. Cross describes one of his student’s experiences:  “There was a young lady named Isabella.  I was told not to expect much participation from her. After conducting class vocal warm ups, I had asked the class if any of the participants would like volunteer to take lead in  leading the workshop exercises ,no one wanted to do it. Isabella said that she would do it. She was very successful in leading the warm up exercises. She was very active in the 2 sessions she participaHospitalSchools2ted in. She was also a big source of inspiration to other students.  Seeing Isabella open up triggered other students who were reluctant to share to be more open and “brave” (as one student had stated).”  Mr. Cross continues, “It was great to see the participants use of similes and metaphors in their poetry. I was surprised that sharing the humble New York origins of Hip Hop Culture would inspire the students to share their own personal stories through poetry.”

 

D.Cross Bio

Derick Cross aka D. Cross is a multi-dimensional artist and educator.  Cross is a Queens New York who has called Brooklyn home for over 15 years.  His visual artistry is created in a variety of media including acrylics, oils, & polymer clay. D.Cross’ work has been shown throughout the New York metropolitan area as well locations nationally (Atlanta)& internationally (Sweden& Brazil ) His work is part of the collections of Erykah Badu(Singer), Ed Lewis (Founder of Essence Communications), Ruby Dee (legendary actress) Judith Jamison (Alvin Ailey Director & Legendary Dancer &choreographer) and Bashiri Johnson (Michael Jackson Percussionist & music producer) among others.  As an Arts Educator Mr. Cross has worked with young people from ages 4-21 for the past 20 years .Organizations he has worked with include the NYC Department of Education, Community Works & Arts Horizons.  In 2007 DCross was presented with a proclamation from State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and honored as a notable artist of the Clinton Hill/Fort Greene area.  Derick Cross is currently a board member of The National conference of Artists ‘New York chapter. He is also art director of African Voices Magazine.

D.Cross the Artist on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DCrossTheArtist

 

For more information, contact Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Residencies and Special Populations at dena@artshorizons.org

 

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Grant 2013-2014: Cheryl Walpole and Tira Bluestone bring art, creativity and healing

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“We are very grateful to Art Horizons to have been included in the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Grant. I hope our kids can continue to receive this wonderful quality of life grant. It has definitely improved their quality of life here at Kingsbrook,” Says Guerline Nelson, classroom Teacher at P 721K Hospital school site at Kingsbrook Hospital.

Arts Horizons, one of the largest arts-in-education organizations in the New York/Metropolitan area, has been awarded a Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation 1st Cycle 2013 Quality of Life grant to support the Arts Horizons “Art Beat” program. We are pleased to partner with P 721K to provide music and visual arts programs for pediatric students at Kingsbrook Jewish Memorial Hospital in Brooklyn. Student’s here are undergoing extended hospital stays for severe acute care while some of the students are part of the chronic inpatient care for severe developmental and metabolic disorders.

Arts Horizons teaching artists work alongside educators and staff from P 721K, The Brooklyn Occupational Center, to provide continued education to support students individualized education plans while hospitalized. We partner to support the schools mission to enable young adults with developmental disabilities to realize their talents, strengths and capabilities in order to live and work in our community as independently as possible. Through the arts, we provide meaningful experiences for these students to express their capabilities and merge arts, education communication and healing at the hospital school site.

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Music instruction is provided by Ms. Tira Bluestone, who enters her sixth year working with the students of Kingsbrook Hospital.  Her ‘TiraTime’ collection merges original music, books, audio c-d’s and computer learning to provide a multi-sensory music experience for students with special needs.  In the words of Educator Guerline Nelson, “Tira brings all of herself to the kids through her music at the hospital.   She deepens her connections with the kids and breathes life into them.  She definitely has a way to touch the kids in a very transformative way with her music.”

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Cheryl Walpole, Licensed creative arts therapist, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT, enters her third year working with the students of Kingsbrook Hospital.  Cheryl aims to provide a sensory art experience for students to participate with the greatest level of independence.  “Cheryl is great.  She exposes the kids to different textures, she allows them to engage with different materials to create art and express their emotions.” Arts Horizons is proud to share the work of our amazing artists and the beautiful arts expressions of the students at P 721 K at Kingsbrook Hospital.  Thank you for the honor and support of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

See the initial grant announcement here.  https://artshorizons.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/arts-horizons-receives-quality-of-life-grant-from-christopher-dana-reeve-foundation/

 

For More Information, contact Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Residencies and Special Popluations dena@artshorizons.org

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Arts Horizons Visual Art Show at Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center

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Arts Horizons is excited to be featured in the Fall Newsletter for Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center for our  2013 Visual Art Show, led by Arts Horizons teaching artists Nina Tantillo Elton and Marie Diperri in collaboration with the educators and hospital staff.

In the second year of the visual art program, the artists have developed a collaborative relationship with the hospital schools and sunshine home staff.   The artists carefully design the lessons, the materials and staff training to maximize student participation in their own visual arts. Each student works 1:1 to enable them to respond, select, and interact with a variety of visual arts mediums.   The 2013 program met with students and teachers  for 17 sessions for hands-on art workshops. The workshops remain firmly based in the ideal of process over product and each class will continue to emphasize experimentation utilizing collage, painting, drawing, and paper maiche. This curriculum outlines the following themes that depend on the pace, development, and temperament of the children:  The Seasons,  What makes a Landscape? Animals in the Landscape.  The students’ art work and energy at the final visual art show celebration demonstrates the success and excitement for the arts at Sunshine Home.

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For more information about the program, contact Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Programs and Special Populations, dena@artshorizons.org

Arts Horizons partners with ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School

Arts Horizons partners with ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School to focus on Dancers with Special Needs

On the afternoon of Saturday September 7th, Ballet Faculty with Children’s division of The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre held their fall staff meeting. This year a special focus was designated specifically to address special needs of students in the pre-primary program in a workshop with Arts Horizons Director of Special Education and NYC Residencies, Dena Malarek.

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School Children’s Division is a ballet program for children ages 4-12 that promotes discipline and creativity while encouraging each child to reach their highest potential. Classes focus on building a solid foundation in ballet technique with an emphasis on proper placement and safe progressions of movement while remaining sensitive to the developmental needs of younger dancers. The workshop presented by Ms. Malarek was designed specifically for the organization and explored how they might best address the needs of young dancers with special needs with the context of expectations in the pre-professional training environment. Participants discussed relevant disability characteristics as manifested in the dance studio environment and targeted strategies for studio instruction, behavioral interventions and organizational accommodations.

Taking this step to address special needs of young dancers in the JKO children’s division speaks very loudly to recognize the potential for young dancers who may have special needs to be given an opportunity in the world of pre-professional ballet. “It is essential for the faculty and staff to have access to this type of professional development so that we can be responsive to the needs of the student body,” Melissa Bowman, Assistant Principal of the JKO School.

Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Programs and Special Education, joined Arts Horizons in June 2008.  She brings with her over 19 years working in the field of disabilities services.   She is certified as a recreation therapist and sits on the steering committee of the NYC Arts and Special Education Consortium.  As a recreation therapist, her work and volunteer experiences span diverse disability genres and artistic/athletic/recreational milieus.   As a former Director of Day Habilitation for adults with disabilities, she managed educational, recreational and arts programs to facilitate goal development.   She further developed skills as a staff trainer in behavioral crisis management.  A key focus of her programs was curriculum development for adults with mental retardation and autism transitioning out of the special education school districts.  Her current major projects with Arts Horizons including the “Special Education Artist Academy for Arts and Autism” and “Hospital School programs” have been recognized with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Christopher Reeve Foundation, NYSCA, and the DANA foundation.  Dena’s skill set as a manager, trainer, recreation therapist, dancer and educator carefully guide teaching artists to effectively collaborate, educate and influence students with disabilities in partnership with school  and community special education teams.  Dena is also a modern dancer who performs in the New York City Modern dance community and teaches modern dance, jazz, ballet  and yoga, to students with, and without, disabilities.

For more information contact Dena Malarek, Director of Special Populations and NYC Residencies. dena@artshorizons.org

 

ARTS HORIZONS RECEIVES QUALITY OF LIFE GRANT FROM CHRISTOPHER & DANA REEVE FOUNDATION

Arts Horizons, one of the largest arts-in-education organizations in the New York/Metropolitan area, has been awarded a Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation 1st Cycle 2013 Quality of Life grant to support the Arts Horizons “Art Beat” program.

 Founded in 1999 by the late Dana Reeve, The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is committed to supporting non-profit organizations that seek to improve the quality of life for people living with paralysis. This year the Foundation has awarded more than $500,000 in Quality of Life grants to 74 recipients in the United States and Canada.

 Arts Horizons will use the $5,745.00 grant to support its ArtBeat teaching artists. ArtBeat is a unique partnership between Arts Horizons, New York City Hospitals, and the New York City Department of Education. The program provides interactive music, theatre, and visual art workshops to promote rehabilitation, learning, and cultural experiences for special needs students with extended, and in some cases residential, hospital stays. The program has been adopted by five hospital school locations in New York City that provide psychiatric and rehabilitative care. ArtBeat merges the fields of art, healthcare and academics to create a space of comprehensive education, expression, nurturing and healing.

Image “We are honored and grateful to have the continued support of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation,” says Dena Malarek, Program Director. Our team of educators, artists, and healthcare professionals is continually eager to give hospitalized children access to create, express, and nurture their creative voice and transform the hospital experience”.

Quality of Life Grants 

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life grants program was conceived by the late Dana Reeve to address the myriad needs of children and adults living with paralysis and other mobility impairments and their families. Grants support critical life-enhancing and life-changing initiatives that improve physical and emotional health and increase independence. The Foundation has awarded 2,205 grants totaling nearly $17 million to organizations since the program’s inception fourteen years ago.

 “It is the Reeve Foundation’s esteemed pleasure to award Quality of Life grants that will help the paralysis community enhance their freedom and independence,” said Niketa Sheth, Senior Vice President of Quality of Life of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “We are thrilled to be able to align with organizations that believe in our mission and especially proud of this grant cycle’s reach and depth to fund multicultural programs, women’s initiatives, and support for caregivers and loved ones of injured service men and women.”

 About the Reeve Foundation
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. The Foundation meets all 20 of the Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability and holds the BBB’s Charity Seal. The Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) is a program of the Reeve Foundation, and is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Award No. U59DD000838. For more information, visit the Foundation’s website at: ChristopherReeve.org or call 800-539-7309.

The Arts Horizons Creative Special Education Program

Arts Horizons is pleased to announce our 2013 Creative Special Education Program under contract with the Kennedy Center and its affiliate VSA.

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The Arts Horizons Creative Special Education Program is a partnership between AH and NYC Department of Education District 75/Citywide (D75) to serve two groups of special needs children – those in special education classrooms and those in hospitals for extended stays.   Arts Horizons Teaching Artists facilitate interactive music, theater, movement and visual art workshops to promote quality arts education, support academic learning, and support rehabilitation for special needs students in an arts-rich, safe, creative, and emotionally uplifting environment.  Through standards based art education programs we anticipate reaching over 240 students with disabilities in NYC based hospitals and special education classrooms.    We are grateful and excited to continue our meaningful programs in arts in special education.  Stay tuned for more information as the programs begin!

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