2016 TASH Conference has ended
Each year, the TASH Conference strengthens the disability field by connecting attendees to innovative information and resources, facilitating connections between stakeholders within the disability movement, and helping attendees reignite their passion for an inclusive world. This year’s conference theme, “Gateway to Equity,” explores inclusive communities, schools, and workplaces that support people with disabilities, including those with complex support needs, in living a fair, just, and balanced life. Return to TASH website.
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Thursday, December 1 • 10:20am - 11:10am
Art Inspired Academy - Changing Lives through the Creative Arts LIMITED

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Limited Capacity seats available

Opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to express themselves creatively in inclusive settings are often difficult to find. This session will explain how Abilities First created a business model through Art Inspired Academy (AIA) to provide inclusive creative arts classes, and how this business has changed the lives of its students and the community. Students have developed and performed original theater productions, created murals that are on display in local businesses, and were given an opportunity to express and communicate in new ways. They have also made friends, gained confidence, developed social and prevocational skills, and learned to work as part of a team. In addition to social skills, woven into the classes are opportunities to improve fine motor, gross motor, communication, intellectual development, and in general a better understanding of the human condition. Individuals who do not have disabilities enjoy the classes and come away with new friendships and a greater understanding of acceptance and diversity. AIA offers art, music, dance and movement, and theater classes for children and adults. Each class is open to anyone, whether they have a disability or not. AIA staff members are former Service Coordinators, Teachers and Habilitation Specialists, trained to work with students with significant disabilities and behaviors. AIA also works with many volunteers, so every student who requires one-on-one assistance to complete the class is able to receive it. Working with volunteers from local universities from a variety of fields of study (music therapy, theatre, social work and education) allows multiple demographics to learn more about diversity and inclusion within the Fine Arts. Funding sources for AIA include private pay, Medicaid Waiver, and the Southwest Missouri Autism Project. Scholarships have also been received from Friends of Abilities First and CC Links, along with local fundraising efforts. AIA classes are held in various locations around Springfield, including several churches and Drury University. We are working with community partners to offer classes through the Boys and Girls Club for the next school year. Abilities First is not aware of any other program like Art Inspired Academy anywhere else in the United States. 1. After this session, participants will understand how the use of inclusive creative arts can be used to help individuals achieve their goals and participate in their community. 2. After this session, participants will have the knowledge needed to return to their communities and implement inclusive opportunities in their community.


Jennifer Larson

Assistant Executive Director - Operations, Abilities First

Thursday December 1, 2016 10:20am - 11:10am CST
Illinois Central 1820 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103