Children with special needs often experience barriers to self-expression and social participation. Expressive art is a transformative, barrier-free outlet that transcends traditional communications, and promotes growth and self-confidence for children with disabilities. At the weekly Art Without Limits class in West Vancouver hosted by the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia, participants meet friends and enjoy the creative process in a calm and accepting environment. The class is designed for children with special needs and gives them the opportunity to express themselves while exploring different art mediums and materials.
Number One: Self-Expression
Olivia Nobes, who volunteers at the program, says there are many benefits for children who want to be creative.
“West Van Art Without Limits is a fantastic program for children and youth with disabilities that love art and painting,” she says. “This program enables students to express themselves in a relaxed, positive environment.”
Instructor Michelle Hui believes the class helps participants challenge themselves mentally, physically and imaginatively through unique materials and creative exercises. Stacey, a student, finds art therapeutic and enjoys the unstructured, inclusive atmosphere. “Collaging and painting is the most fun. Expressive Art is a form of therapy, like a stress reliever. It gets your mind off everything you have to deal with and everyday life for about an hour.”
Number Two: Self-Confidence
Sandra Doyle’s daughter Anais attends the Monday art program and attests to its positive benefits. “The class seems to have a very calming and positive impact on Anais, who struggles with anxiety. It is also a wonderful social opportunity and a safe place for her to express herself. This is important for anyone with an autism diagnosis such as Anais. I feel really good about sending her to this class. I know she is in good hands, and it has helped her self-confidence as well.”
Volunteer Olivia says students leave Arts Without Limits, “knowing they accomplished something beautiful – art! I hope this program continues so that more youth can experience what others have.”
Number Three: Friendships
The program puts a smile on children’s faces while building social connection, friendships and personal development.
Anais says, “I really love the fact that you’re basically free to create whatever you want there. It’s just freedom from having to follow rules and it makes me feel calm and relaxed and as if I’m in my own art zone.”
The group is open to parents and family members. This creates the development of a bonding and inclusive space. However, so me children prefer to form their own connections. “My 9-year-old daughter loved
the class and the people in it much more than I anticipated,” says Jane, a parent. “She won’t allow me to stay, she wants to be here by herself without assistance, makes her feel very grow up. Thank-you!”
Learn more about Art Without Limits
Art Without Limits is run by the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC. It is open to all children and youth with disabilities and is free. For more information or to register, please contact Lindsay at email@example.com or 604 408 9484.