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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

A talent for development
Job training program helps learning disabled boost their employment skills
Published Thursday, June 4, 2009 7:00 am
by Ryanne Persinger

Amy Turner went from being an art participant to becoming the instructor’s right hand.

Amy Turner creates a glass mosaic at a job skills training program sponsored by Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont.

She’s learning how to draw, paint and create mosaics through the Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont’s Employment Skills Training program, which provides job skills training for the intellectually disabled and mentally ill.

Art is the talent Turner has mastered. She’s so good at it that she helps production-training supervisor Constance Mitchell get the class started when she’s going to be late.

“I like crafts,” Turner, 37, said. “I really love to do this,” she added, while piecing together a mosaic of a pear, apple and banana using stained glass.

She goes to Goodwill on Freedom Drive at least three times a week.

Turner says she has learned to appreciate art.

“I see a difference in (Turner),” Mitchell said. “She really loves the craft. I see a glow in her.”

Turner and Mitchell have talked about furthering her love of art by taking some classes.

“We’ve looked into the Art Institute,” Mitchell said. “We’ve talked about her goals.”

Turner is one of 68 participants in the Goodwill program, which teams up with the Charlotte Art League Gallery. The late Carole Stockton of CAL spearheaded the partnership.

During the second annual reception, CAL will feature Goodwill participants’ work during the month-long exhibit of “Color My Dreams.” The event kicks off with a reception from 6-9 p.m. June 5 at the CAL, 1517 Camden Road and will highlight 70 to 90 pieces or artwork.
It’s a partnership that CAL artists Tina Alberni and Sandra Gray are proud of.

“When (participants) reach a point of where they say ‘I did this,’ it is a point of self-identity and self-esteem for them,” said Gray, who has been teaching watercolors and acrylic. “And they are given that gratification by people who have seen their work and know what they’ve done.”

Alberni, who paints mixed media using pastels, prints and oil, said it’s mutually rewarding for her to see an up and coming artist feel proud when they finish something. 

“It just brings out their talent,” Alberni said. “It’s such a benefit.”

Diane Hoff-Weekley, Goodwill’s director of vocational and workforce development services, says the art provides another outlet for participants to be proud of themselves. 

“This has been a great thing,” she said. “Maybe they don’t have the communication skills, but they can express things this way (through art).”

For Turner, she’s not only learned how to create mosaics but has learned some personal things as well.

“This art teaches you patience,” she added. “And it’s a good stress reliever too.”

“Color My Dreams” will be open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s additionally open from 6-9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (704) 376-2787 or visit: www.charlotteartleague.org.


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