Mary Blieka, Children’s Librarian
Queens Library, South Hollis Branch
St. Albans, New York
A librarian’s desire to develop a community arts program for special-needs children led to an ocean-themed adventure for a group of middle-schoolers with Asperger’s, high-functioning autism and ADHD. Their enthusiasm grew as their artwork was put on display, and their interest fueled further participation and reading. This cooperative program encouraged the children to exceed expectations.
Three school-day morning workshops brought the students and their teachers to the library for painting, papier-mâché, and singing, reading and joke-telling. Under the guidance of a guest artist-musician, the students created a 15-foot mural and a fishing-rod mobile with a sea-animal motif, recited poetry and learned about whales. At the end, the students marched in a “Parade of Sea Animals” from the library to school to show off their artwork, including the pièce de resistance, Joey the Rainbow Whale.