NORWICH – The Norwich Family YMCA will play host to a display of artwork created with a unique touch as the first ever “Art of Me” exhibit is unveiled at 5 p.m. Friday in the YMCA lobby on Mechanic Street in Norwich.
Art and Me, coordinated by local artist Jill Kraft, owner of the Artists’ Pallet in Norwich, is a unique art program geared toward using art as an expressive tool for individuals with developmental disabilities. Since May, Kraft has been working with local agencies for the developmentally disabled, including the Friends Learning Activities for Social and Health Benefits (FLASH) Program (a collaborative program for autistic children between Spring Brook and the Norwich YMCA, and funded through the RC Smith Foundation) and Chenango County Community Mental Hygiene Services’ Chenango Club (a program for individuals who, as a result of their mental illness, experience social withdrawal, social vulnerability, and difficulty managing daily activities).
“Art of me is a program really designed to target more of the developmentally disabled population. It’s an expressive art education tool,” Kraft said. She explained that Art of Me aims to use art as a form of therapy for the developmentally disabled, and the program provides mental health agencies with opportunities that might not be available otherwise. “Art of Me fills the gap into the arts area where there’s not a lot of funding for agencies that work with this population,” she added.
Art of Me is a concept that’s been three years in the making, said Kraft, made possible only through a series of community grants: $500 from the Chenango Art’s Council Decentralization Grant Program; $500 from the FLASH program; and a $3,000 community grant from the greek yogurt manufacturer Chobani. Hopes to expand on the Art of Me program to work with other agencies for the developmentally disabled in the near future...