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Artwork by Students with Special Needs Displayed at Regional Art Show

Young people with disabilities let their talents shine at the Fourth Annual Tri-State DisAbility Art Show, hosted by Y.A.L.E. School at its Performing Arts Center in Cherry Hill. Students with disabilities ages 3-21 with an IEP or 504 Plan from the greater Philadelphia region showcased their original artwork including paintings, sculptures, mixed media displays and more.

The Art Show featured 330 works of art created by more than 300 students from 28 public and private schools across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Participating artists included those with autism spectrum disorders, emotional and behavioral disabilities, visual and/or hearing impairments and more. More than 300 guests visited the gallery over its two-day engagement.

“The theme of this year’s Art Show was ‘Art for All,’ and our students embraced the theme, showcasing their own work and enthusiastically celebrating the talents of their peers,” said Karen Donnelly, art teacher at Y.A.L.E. School and Art Show organizer. “Every year the growing number of students who participate in the Show inspire me with their creativity and talent, and this year was no exception.”

In addition to awards for juried categories presented by community partners Say It With Clay, Art Educators of New Jersey, the Penn Museum, Pennsylvania Art Education Association and Perkins Center for the Arts, the Art Show also featured live performances from student musicians, and craft tables where families could engage in art activities together.

Students and attendees were also able to contribute in a unique way to a worthy cause: T-shirts, mugs and more items custom-made in the Y.A.L.E. School Vocational Skills Lab & Co-op bearing the phrase “Art for All” were available to purchase, with proceeds benefiting Perkins Center for the Arts Accessibility Fund. Y.A.L.E. School students also held a school-wide fundraiser for Perkins in the weeks preceding the Art Show, purchasing star stickers to decorate poster versions of Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” In total, fundraising efforts of the Art Show raised $1,600 for the Perkins’ Fund. Perkins is committed to increasing its accessibility, including wheelchair ramps and accessible bathrooms at its Moorestown and Collingswood locations. Funds raised from these efforts will support those important projects.

“One of the most important things we do here at Perkins is support the social-emotional well-being of our communities through arts engagement,” says Kahra Buss, Executive Director, Perkins Center for the Arts. “Creating art is a powerful and grounding experience for people of all ages which supports learning for all individuals. We’ve been honored to partner with Y.A.L.E. School to support the Tri-State DisAbility Art Show for the three years in a row and are excited to support the creative efforts of students throughout the region, connect with educators, parents and students, and celebrate the diversity of our communities.”

The Art Show was an inclusive event, incorporating printed guides in Braille, and ASL interpreting by certified American Sign Language interpreters during the awards ceremony. Prize ribbons for juried works were made by Y.A.L.E. School students in the Co-op.

“I’m so proud of the enthusiasm all students bring to the Art Show each year, making it a can’t-miss event,” added Donnelly. “The way it has grown has truly epitomized the theme of art for all, and we’re going to keep working to make opportunities like this available to all students.”

About Y.A.L.E. School NJ

Y.A.L.E. School is a New Jersey state-approved private special education school with 12 campus locations throughout southern New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia region serving students with disabilities ages 3 through 21. Y.A.L.E. School offers a highly specialized program for students with autism and other social, emotional, learning, and behavioral disabilities that provides low student-to-staff ratios, supervision by highly-trained and certified behavior specialists, a comprehensive curriculum, intensive transition support, integrated and consultative speech services, support for families, and an extended school year program in the summer. Since 1976, students with disabilities have been placed at Y.A.L.E. School locations by their local school district and attend at no cost to parents. For more information, go to

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