Success Stories Drawings on AsphaltArt therapy for all
Sometimes, the seemingly simplest thing—like participating in an art class—can make all the difference for a struggling student. But for paraplegic special-education kids, there are many challenges that must be overcome before they can engage in artistic activities.
CIS seeks to awaken possibilities in all students, particularly those with specialized needs. So, for a group of wheelchair-bound paraplegic students, counselors put creativity to work—in order to make art therapy a reality for these children.
CIS counselors had three main goals in mind with the “Drawings on Asphalt” program: outdoor activity (to increase the ability of self-expression outside the regular setting), large-scale art (to stimulate body involvement in the art-making process), and the transformation of physical impairments into an art-making tool (to nurture physical and psychological empowerment and validation).
The first and most important hurdle was the students’ limited range of motion. If these types of barriers are not properly addressed, there is a significant risk of students feeling frustrated or withdrawn in the art-making process. So, as springtime rolled around, each student was provided with a “drawing device” consisting of a three-foot-long wooden stick attached to their wheelchair on one end and extending with colored drawing chalks on the other end. Once outside and artistically enabled, the students reacted immediately—driving their wheelchairs around and drawing hearts, scribbles, abstract designs, and geometrical shapes.
The experiment brought a sense of enhanced freedom and empowerment to the students, who in turn showed more independence in taking action, making art, and communicating verbally. Most importantly, the students’ physical impairments were no longer an obstacle, but the main medium in the art-making process. These students have shown considerable growth, increased self-esteem, and greater self-acceptance through this clever art therapy program.
Hope, purpose and determination can flourish.
Together, let’s work toward a bright, resilient future for New York City’s children, families and schools.