Hatchery LA is a project of the PSWR committed to raising up new leaders and church planters through an innovative praxis-based educational program. One of our students, Nathanael Welch has created an initiative to help focus on the particular needs of people with disabilities. He is now in his second year of the program and recently gave an update on the progress of his project and we thought it would be great to share it with you.
It’s hard to believe that just one year ago I was getting ready to host my first ArtWalk and pop-up gallery.
My goal last year was to help raise awareness and visibility for people with disabilities and the challenges they face. I decided the best way to try and accomplish this was through a combination of art, storytelling, and community.
So last March I met with a group of people with disabilities and their friends and families to figure out a way to make this happen. The solution: ArtWalks.
ArtWalks are events where persons with disabilities are invited to take pictures of the things they find beautiful and interesting in the world, from their perspective. For our first ArtWalk we hiked through a great little park in Long Beach. We had a great group of people who really enjoyed the chance to take pictures and make some new friends in the process.
Two weeks after this we held a pop-up gallery in a local coffee shop. The pop-up gallery is meant to showcase not just the artwork, but the artists themselves. The hope is that not only will the art gallery make their work and perspective visible, but that they themselves will become visible as well.
Far too often people with disabilities are ignored throughout society. They are effectively made invisible - including in the church. My hope was that these ArtWalks would help to correct this by raising awareness among the nondisabled about the lives of people with disabilities through art and creative self-expression, build networks of people who share similar experiences, and to empower communities to make positive change towards valuing every member.
One year later we’ve made amazing progress. I have been privileged to speak at a number of DOC regional churches, including Mission HillsLA with Ryan Pryor and Mission Hills Christian in Pasadena. After hosting several more ArtWalks locally, I wanted to give communities across the country the tools and confidence to do this on their own. So I hosted several webinars to try and spread the word. At the beginning of March we had 7 communities and churches across the country agree to host ArtWalks in their neighborhood. I have committed to working closely with each group, providing them with the tools and resources they need to make it a success.
These are easy, fun, and meaningful experiences for everyone involved. My dream is that by this time next year we have an explosion of interest in not just ArtWalks, but in the lives of people with disabilities across the country. If you want to get on board and host an ArtWalk in your community, or learn how, you can visit www.differentunited.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can learn more about my story and why I do ArtWalks at:http://www.differentunited.com/our-story
For more information about the innovative opportunities at HatcheryLA: hatcheryla.com