2009-07-31 / Milestones

Allen Wins Art Competition

Barbara Allen, an artist with a developmental disability, was recently selected by a panel of professionals in the field as the Second Place winner of the FEGS (Federation Employment and Guidance Service, Inc.) Haym Salomon Arts Awards Competition for her mosaic titled "Swimming Fish." Allen attends AHRC's (formerly the Association for the Help of Retarded Children) Far Rockaway Day Program.

On Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at the UJA-Federation of New York, the artist will be named a Haym Salomon Fellow and receive a specially designed limited edition Haym Salomon Medal and an honorarium of $750. To recognize AHRC NYC's ongoing support of the arts for the people it serves, FEGS will present a commemorative poster of the contest's winning pieces.

Organizations like FEGS, the largest private, not-for-profit health related and human service organization in the United States, and AHRC New York City, support the ongoing use of the arts as a means of expression throughout a developmentally disabled (DD) person's adolescence and into adulthood. AHRC recognizes that art not only provides extra sensory stimulation, which many people with DDs need throughout their lives, but it gives a voice to individuals who are non-verbal. For those who are physically disabled, it allows them to create something beautiful — a description society often recognizes in people that only "look" perfect.

People with developmental disabilities (DD) and autism are often excluded from creative activities that could help them. Teachers and parents concentrate on arts, crafts, and related sensory activities in the early years, but after about age 4 or 5, they tend to abandon this method of teaching and exploration. However, it's important to continue this type of learning experience for many reasons, especially for DD people.

Integrating art into the lives of DD children and those with autism provides endless benefits. According to AJ Tyne, Examiner.com writer and mother of an autistic child, "Many children find a voice in arts and crafts, their own voice, with which to interact with others and enjoy the world. This is especially true with children who have developmental disabilities, such as autism, which inhibit their ability to communicate and interact with others. But they may never find it if their entire arts and crafts experience is limited to once a week for an hour when the arts teacher comes in."

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