VSAartBy Libby Hopkins

Art and music do so many things for a person. The two mediums have the ability to heal, calm and teach many things. VSA Florida and Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association have teamed up to offer summer art and musical theater programs for special needs students in the Brandon community and beyond called My Art, My Way.

“The class genres were chosen by Dawn Galia, the director at Center Place,” said VSA Director of Programs, Wendy Finklea. “Musical theater was chosen because they have a stage which many centers do not have access to, and it suits the summer program nicely.”

Finklea also said that the art classes are something that appeals to a large population of students because they are more open to expressing themselves through art.

VSA Florida is a non-profit organization and program of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. that offers arts education and creative expression to enhance cognitive and social outcomes for people of all abilities. The program’s mission is to create a society where people with disabilities can learn through, participate in and enjoy the arts. “Students who participate in the arts develop creativity, have increased self-confidence, understand teamwork, have increased language and math skills as well as being more engaged,” Finklea said. “Parents are thrilled that VSA Florida offers classes specifically designed for students with all types of disabilities. They recognize how important these inclusive offerings are therapeutic to their child’s development.”

The Fantasy Painting class will be held Tuesdays July 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 4-5 p.m. The painting class costs $45. The musical theater classes will be held on the same dates in July from 1-2 p.m. with the class performance being held on Sunday, August 3. The musical theater class costs $110.

“My hope is that parents and caretakers will have their students participate in all of the offerings we provide throughout the region,” Finklea said. “We would love to be able to offer music, visual art, dance and even drama year round for everyone that would like to participate.”

To learn more about the programs offered at VSA Florida, visit www.vsafl.org. To register for one of the summer programs, e-mail Dawn Galia at cpfinearts@verizon.net or call 685-8888.

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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.