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Art program helps children with mental disabilities


12-03-2016 10:41 BJT

Today marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. And in China's southwestern city of Chengdu, one school helps children with intellectual disabilities find passion and purpose in life through art.

In this art studio, there are no rules and no boundaries.

“They can’t be wrong. If they want to draw a blue sun, we will encourage them to draw a blue sun," said Xu Yujiang, mother of student.

Xu Yujiang started this program to help children with intellectual disabilities. Her daughter, Xinxin was born with cerebral palsy.

“The doctors said she will be like a monkey. We’d be lucky if she could one day fetch water or slippers for us. For any family like us, it’s a devastating struggle. I didn’t know what the future holds," she said.

The future, it turned out, wasn't as bleak as Xu Yujiang had imagined. By pure chance, she found that her daughter has a natural talent for colors. It was hard to communicate with Xinxin orally. But with the help of her mother, I managed to pick up a few words and we had a brief conversation about her passion.

“I feel happy when I paint. It’s almost like flying," said Xie Xinxin.

“She likes painting angels. Faceless angels. Once, she painted an angel on a vast grassland, with a ray of light shining behind her. Through works like that, you can see she’s not as simple as she appears to be. She has all these emotions in her," mother said.

Through her experience with her daughter, Xu Yujiang believes other children with similar conditions can make real progress through art.

It’s hard to imagine that these are the works of mentally impaired children - the bold colors, the subtle transition of light and shadow - opening up a window to the children’s inner world.

“It’s a way for them to express themselves. You can see they have ideas, they have dreams. They want tomorrow to be better than today, just like the rest of us. It just takes longer for them," Xu said.

“I paint my emotions. Angels are all the good things in life," Xie said.

And through a few flicks of a brush, these children can bring these “good things” to the rest of us.

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