Arts Access project at North Park Elementary encourages students of all abilities to participate

Twice a year, artist Jeff Mathers travels to Cache Valley from Atlanta, Georgia to help students with all ranges of ability create an art piece to display in their school. His most recent visit was to North Park Elementary last week, where second-grade students designed a unique sculpture which now is suspended from the rafters in the school’s media center.

The project emphasized both individual creativity and teamwork. After first creating individual designs, students shared and collaborated on those designs to come up with a final concept. Then, for several days, the students took turns painting, stamping, and utilizing different brush techniques to make the design a reality.

A key element of the project was that students of all abilities were included in the process of designing and creating the sculpture. “The mission of Arts Access is inclusion,” explained Mathers, the visiting artist, “So, all students, including students with disabilities, are invited and encouraged to participate.” For example, if a student cannot hold a brush, Mathers and his team strive to find a way to help that student contribute. For instance, he or she may hold a sponge instead.

Students who worked on the project found it rewarding and enjoyable. Gavin, a student helping with the project at North Park, said that he feels that working on this project has helped him learn teamwork. “I will feel proud of myself when it’s done because we are all working together,” he shared. Another second grader, Lola, said she is most excited that the library will look good. And turns out, it does! Take a look for yourself at the process and the finished product in the pictures below.

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