Workshop teaches kids far more than art


The program welcomes children of all learning abilities and disabilities and encourages them to learn and create together. ABC7's Harry Porterfield says the founder and volunteers behind this neighborhood workshop are some people you should know.

It's an afterschool art workshop with a special mission. In the same setting children with learning disabilities, others from regular school along with gifted youngsters are finding common ground as they study art together. Beverly Normand created the program.

"It serves in social ways too, to improve their social skills, to expose them to youngsters who are not doing as well, to help them so they actually learn something about empathy and the caring ethnic," said Beverly Normand PhD, program creator.

Located in the basement of Normand's South Side, the workshop is staffed by volunteer art instructors.

"You have to give back," said Edward Strong, volunteer artist. "Art is a thing when you are constantly admiring something and it's a natural thing to do something for someone else."

"I first started my first class when I was 15 years old, so very early on I recognized the need to develop this creativity in real young kids, because I still remember that's where I started off," said Gerald Sanders, volunteer art director.

The workshop ranges from three to six hours and many of the students are so involved in what they do that they don't want to leave.

"I'm just learning how to draw my circles and things correctly, coming here, meeting new people and just having a good time," said Julian Sidney, student.

"The best thing I drew here was a lighthouse," said Candace Baker, student.

For 20 years, the organization has survived on donations and volunteers, and the youngsters are not charged for the lessons they are given.

"I feel good when I see a child at risk for any reason who comes together with other children who are more fortunate to learn about art, to stimulate the imagination, to learn about the possibilities there are in social relations in the arts. In the academic world, too," said Normand.

Beverly Normand, kids and the volunteers in her art workshop, some people you should know.

To learn more about the workshop and its allied organization the Rald Institute log on to

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