Kyle’s Kitchen partnered with the Grace Fisher Foundation to host a “Paint With Grace” class for the community on Saturday at 11 a.m.
The adaptive art class was geared towards school-aged children. Grace Fisher guided participants through creating their own piece of art that they were able to take home while promoting awareness, compassion and inclusivity for people of all abilities.
Ms. Fisher 24, was an able-bodied teenager until her senior year of high school, when her spinal cord was attacked by a virus which paralyzed her from the neck down. She was diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Myelitis, and received treatment at the Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver.
“After my diagnosis I went to a rehab hospital and was introduced to adaptive art and I was able to experiment with art and it took me out of a place of feeling loss and sadness and I channeled that energy into art,” said Ms. Fisher.
About 25 children between the ages of six and 13 participated in the event. Art supplies for the event were donated by Art Essentials.
“It went really well, there were a lot of kids that I hadn’t met before, so that was really great and they responded really well to the lesson. I taught them how to paint with their mouth so it was great to see the results and how some of the kids stuck with the mouth painting. It got pretty hard so some of the kids went back to painting with their hands right away, which was fine as long as everyone tried it,” Ms. Fisher told the News-Press during an interview.
Ms. Fisher addressed how she hoped the event would inspire children with disabilities to pursue art: “Art has given me a way to stay present with myself when I have a challenge that I am facing or something is bothering me, and it gives me a way to channel that into something good. I hope kids with disabilities will see that if something is hard for them to do, there are many ways to complete a task you might just have to think outside the box.”
The event began with a welcome from Ms. Fisher, who shared her story and her mission to help other children with disabilities through art and music. She then led the group through creating their own piece of art as she demonstrated how she creates her artwork by painting with her mouth. Afterwards guests enjoyed a delicious lunch courtesy of Kyle’s Kitchen.
“It was outside on the patio and there were alot of kids that knew each other. It was great to see the friendships already there, but also introducing kids that hadn’t met before which was good for everyone and everyone was able to chat while they were doing art. It was a very inviting atmosphere. I’m very open to questions from kids about my disability, because with kids there is no filter,” said Ms. Fisher.
“I wanted to bring what I learned at the hospital in Colorado to our community in Santa Barbara. I really like outreach and talking to kids without disabilities and encouraging them to approach those that might look different from them,” she said. “We are a lot more alike than we are different and I think it’s important to treat people with disabilities just the same as you would anyone else. I think that’s something that I would have appreciated learning in middle school as well. Sometimes you don’t know if you should approach someone or not. I think people have different opinions on whether they want to be approached or not, but I always invite the opportunity to learn.