SADI art festival gives everyone chance to create

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Everyone deserves art.

The SEMO Alliance for Disability Independence aims to achieve that with the annual Arts for All Festival, a six-hour event where families of both disabled and nondisabled children are invited to create art through the use of adaptive equipment.

"We've reached out so much to the younger children but we would like for any age and anyone to come out and experience it," said Sara McDowell, SADI director of independent living. "We'll have food and drinks. It's basically just a play day where you can try out the equipment."

The equipment was designed by Dwayne Szot of Bayfield, Wis., who holds similar events all over the United States.

According to his website,, "Arts for All tools are designed so participants with limited movement or lack of fine motor skills can be successful in using what mobility they have to create, paint, draw, print and more."

Szot said he thought the arts were not accessible to the disabled and one day he decided to do something about it.

"I grew up in a foster home with disabled children," Szot said. "I can remember putting my foster sister in a wagon and pulling her to catch her bus because her crutches slowed her down."

In 1980 Szot received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to construct a wheelchair for painting, the first of its kind.

Today his creative devices are being introduced to an audience with creative impulses who otherwise would have no outlet.

His website has a catalog listing the numerous pieces of equipment as well as information on an equipment lending program.

"I was lucky that as an individual, I was able to find my place," Szot said.

The Arts for All festival will have activities for children of all ages and capabilities.

"We'll have pony rides, face painting, demonstrations with fire, food and drinks," McDowell said.

The SADI Arts for All Festival will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 1913 Rusmar St. in Cape Girardeau.

The Cape Girardeau-based organization provides non-residential independent living for the disabled through a variety of programs serving Cape Girardeau, Perry, Mississippi, Scott and Bollinger counties.

Founded in 1984 as a poliomyelitis support group, SADI was funded in 1993 as an independent living center.

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