Festival spotlights arts abilities

Festival spotlights arts abilities http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20100613/LIFE/6130392/1108/NEWS15/Fe...
June 13, 2010

Nearly 200 children and adults sang and danced, made art projects, and painted murals at the 19th annual Celebrate Abilities Festival presented by VSA Michigan's Southeast Region Committee June 4, at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, and June 5, at Michigan State University Community Music School in Detroit. Founded by Jean Kennedy Smith, VSA was originally known as Very Special Arts, then VSA arts. The nonprofit organization, an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., sponsors art, music and dance therapy sessions throughout the year to help children and adults with disabilities express themselves.

The annual Southeast Region festival showcases those talents. Among the performers were students from Old Village School in Northville. They brought handmade xylophones to the DiPonio Room at Schoolcraft College to play We Are the World under the direction of Hayley Mieras, music therapist. Students from Pontiac, Detroit, Lincoln Park, and Monroe performed as well.

On Saturday, Karen Barsy's tap students from 5678 studio in Livonia danced to We Will Rock You. Cameron Barsy, Brandon Miller, Gabrielle and Brooke Kreza, and Caroline Pietron all had a good time. Raymond Wells of Plymouth enjoyed himself, too. A pianist, Wells performed Sonatina Opus 36, No. 1 by Clementi.

The FAR Conservatory Band from Birmingham played Jailhouse Rock. Many visitors admired the touring Emerging Artists Exhibit while students enjoyed workshops in African drumming with Kevin Collins on Friday, and creating murals with Royal Oak artist, Daniel Cascardo, and movement with therapist Cindy Babcock both days. Outside the DiPonio Room, Deb Madonna, co-chair of the Miracle League Plymouth, and Elizabeth Anchor, marketing associate for Schoolcraft College, sat at a table taking donations for the Miracle League Field to be built behind Central Middle School in Plymouth. The field will provide children with disabilities an accessible area with rubberized surface for playing baseball. The Southeast Region Committee and Miracle League Plymouth decided to partner for the festival because of their like goals of helping children with disabilities.

The children were the main reason volunteers from CVS pharmacies came to Schoolcraft College to set up easels and help with art projects including Father's Day cards and gift bags. CVS began partnering with VSA Michigan, the state organization on arts and disabilities, about two years ago as part of the CVS Caremark All Kids Can initiative to improve the quality of life for children with disabilities. Without monetary support from CVS and in-kind donations from Schoolcraft College and the MSU Community Music School, the festival would not be heading into its 20th year in 2011. Southeast Region Committee members include Jody Stark, Margaret Hull, Cindy Babcock, Linda Ann Chomin, and Connie Lott. For more information about Miracle League Plymouth visit www.miracleleagueplymouth.org. The organization believes “Every child deserves a chance to play baseball.”