25 developmentally disabled individuals have taken up their paint brushes and discovered their “inner artist.” They participate in a monthly arts skills program run by Unique People Services (UPS) held at the Bright Harp Residence in Jamaica, Queens.
The program started in 2011 as the brainchild of UPS’s Lisa Paige, and received mentor support from local artist, Gavin Thompson. They started small, but soon it became obvious that the group was on to something, and it has grown rapidly since. Cheryelle Cruickshank, UPS’s Associate Executive Director, praises the program: “The participants socialize, paint, and they really feel good about what they do.”
UPS plan s to hold an art auction in the spring, with selected pieces put on sale to help support what is now an unfunded program. According to Cruickshank, “We can only supply the minimum in supplies now, and we would like to give the artists better paint brushes, paints, and other supplies.”
The program has had a positive influence, according to Cruickshank: “We’ve seen a tremendous increase in their self-esteem and that’s why we want to raise more funds for the program.”
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