SPECIAL WORKSHOPS: Communicating Through Art | Arts & Culture
Special education students — mostly non-ambulatory — have been provided with unique opportunities to showcase their abilities through creative and performing arts.
“Art is a language everyone is able to speak—a language where everyone can listen and understand,” said Andy Cashin, a Johnston High School special education teacher.
The program that’s helping student a new means of communicating is provided by VSA Iowa, the state organization on arts and disability. They are a creative and performing arts nonprofit that serves students with special needs with the intention to showcase abilities instead of focusing on limitations.
The impact has been particularly memorable to Cashin during a recent storytelling workshop.
“One of my students was having a rough week, and nothing we tried could really make her happy. She got to play the role of a princess during the story — she adores princesses — and wear a tiara. I have never seen her face light up the way it did that Friday. She was truly in her element! My staff and I couldn’t wipe the smiles off of our faces the entire rest of the day after watching her shine in her role!”
The workshops have given teachers a chance to reach a child in different ways, whether with the help from tunes by local musicians or with the use of pictures or poetry.
“As a teacher, that is all I could ever hope for my students—to feel self-worth and happiness every day. It is incredible to learn about different ways you can reach a child, ways that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to think of or deliver in a typical school day.”
The free hour-long VSA Iowa workshops are offered in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education. Registration is available to classrooms with at least one child with an Individualized Education Plan through June 1st.