Summer ArtExperience Gets Kids of All Abilities Creating Together

By Christina Elston


Activities such as printmaking, mural making, sculpture and drawing are designed to get students working together. PHOTO COURTESY ABLE ARTS WORK

Children with and without disabilities are used to being separated – at school, at camp, at play. The Summer ArtExperience at the ARTX Learning Center in Long Beach brings kids ages 6-12 of all abilities together for 10 days of art exploration.

“It’s all about inclusion,” says Monica Fernandez, director of communications and community engagement at the nonprofit Able ARTS Work, a partner with ARTX in the program. “They get to know somebody on an even playing field and find out about what they have in common as opposed to what’s different about them.” The art projects students will complete are all designed to be a bridge for working collaboratively with others.

The sessions – 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. July 24-Aug. 4 and Aug. 7-18 – take place at the ARTX Art Exchange, an historic warehouse that has been refurbished as a community art space and gallery featuring the work of community artists. Participating students will make art and also have a chance to explore the gallery.

Led by professional arts educators, students will complete four projects with the theme “identity,” using printmaking, mural making, sculpture and drawing. Supports for children with disabilities are available on an as-needed basis. “Our staff is trained in working with individuals with disabilities,” Fernandez says. “We weave it into our curriculum.”

Because the work is process oriented, students will come away from the sessions with more than just art projects. “It’s really important to us that there is meaning behind the projects,” Fernandez says. “We want them to walk away with a story to tell.”

At the final exhibition at the end of each session, students will get to exhibit their work in the gallery and walk their parents and the community through what they have learned.

Just 30 spots are available per session, and spaces fill fast. Sessions cost $350, and scholarships are available.

For students who wish to stay until 5:30 p.m., extended sessions ($6.50 per hour) will get kids moving – and drumming. Local yogi Ramona Tamulinas from Flow LBC will lead yoga twice each week. On alternate days, music-therapy interns from Able ARTS Work will lead drum circles to teach self-awareness, listening skills, cooperation and coordination of breath and movement.

Learn more about the program, and register, at

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