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'Drawn Together' Works to Break Down Walls

A booming art program in Monroe is working to change the way people view mental disabilities.
ARCO participants and volunteer with KTVE's Felicia Bolton. (Felicia Bolton)
ARCO participants and volunteer with KTVE's Felicia Bolton. (Felicia Bolton)
Two ARCO art student say they enjoy making friends and learning to paint.  (Felicia Bolton)
Two ARCO art student say they enjoy making friends and learning to paint. (Felicia Bolton)
MONROE -- A booming art program in Monroe has changed the way people view mental disabilities. 

Organizers stated that “Drawn Together” is breaking down the walls that divide us.

Every Monday night more than 20 adults with special needs gather at ARCO to paint. 28-year-old Chris Ryland and 45-year-old Laura Poss are just two of the many regulars at “Drawn Together”

 “I can’t read a little bit. That’s one of my disabilities. But I can paint,” said new artist Laura Poss.

 “Arts just about drawing what you like. It doesn’t matter what it looks like as long as you can learn,“ stated ARCO participant Christ Ryland.

On the surface, the new artists are learning to create vivid patterns and unique paintings.

But the program is doing more than growing art skills. Organizers say it’s teaching both the volunteer and the participant a new language.

“Art is that universal language. So now, they’ve got something in common with different people in the community,” said ARCO Resource Development Director Missy Fleming.

Fleming stated that people with mental disabilities don’t have the same social opportunities as the average person.

But with this program they can interact with a group of volunteers and be viewed as equal.

 “The art is this new bridge bringing people together. The participants have this opportunity to be viewed in this very new competent way”, stated Fleming.  “They go and show their art at these new art shows. Many of the participants will attend those art shows and share about what that art means to them.”

Many volunteers say that with each stroke of the brush, participants are learning a lot less about art and a lot more about life .

 “I like to hang out with different people around, that have different disabilities. Sometimes I help them out,” said Poss.

If you are interested in this program, Call ARCO at (318)387-7817. or click here

 

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