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March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (DDAM)
DD Awareness Month Arkansas 2021-Artist Spotlight
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Join the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities Arkansas (GCDDAR or the Council) in highlighting the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form stronger, more diverse communities. Together we can raise awareness about the importance of inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of community life.
This year the Council asked members and their families to submit artwork to share during DDAM. With the artist’s permission, we have highlighted their art in our DD Awareness Month campaign.
In our DDAM 2021 logo and blog, we feature art by Council member Kasey Hodges. Later in this blog, you will read about artist Carolina Gardenhire, daughter of member C.W. Gardenhire, who shared several pieces of art.
Artist Spotlight - Kasey Hodges
Kasey Hodges is a digital graphic designer working in formats inspired by pop art, graphic novels, graffiti/murals, and other relatable, powerful, and accessible media. In 2014, Hodges earned a degree in theatre arts at Hendrix College, during which time she gained experience with acting, stage management, and directing, as well as poster design, lighting, and costumes. After graduating, she redirected these skills toward graphic design, earning a certificate in the field in 2019. Later that year, a collection of her work, entitled “Sound Off,” appeared at ArtVentures alongside work by other people with disabilities. She has been featured in The Idle Class as well as the NWA Democrat-Gazette.
Yes, I Can Rise
Hodges said, “Yes, I Can and Rise are my responses to the external world that has limited access to people because of their disability, race, gender, and other marginalized identities. Sometimes hearing or experiencing “no” all the time causes people to internalize that no, limiting their dreams and their belief in what they can achieve. I want these pieces to be reminders that we all have the ability to say “yes” and fight against stigmas and stereotypes”.
Beyond the Chair
“Beyond the Chair speaks to the fact that I am more than a person in a wheelchair. I have faced microaggressions by people who think that I am incompetent, hard of hearing, and desperate. On the contrary, I am someone who is quirky, brave, creative, and a force of nature.”
Artist Spotlight – Carolina Gardenhire
Carolina Gardenhire, 16, is an artist from Beebe, Arkansas. She is the daughter of GCDDAR member C.W. Gardenhire. Carolina shared several art pieces with us for DD Awareness Month 2021. She began doing art as part of informal therapy she experienced in working with support professionals. She loves to paint and enjoys working with Paper Mache.
When it comes to painting, Carolina and her support team use a hand-over-hand technique. Her dad says that she is able to get her hands into the medium and express herself with texture and color, creating abstract art paintings like the ones she has shared with us.
Carolina Gardenhire, 16, Beebe, Arkansas
Carolina also creates with Paper Mache. Paper Mache, or Papier-mâché, is paper that has been mixed with glue or paste so that it can be molded. This popular crafting technique uses paper and a paste to create a variety of objects. This craft is centuries old and is still popular.
This piece, birdhouse, highlights her use of mixed media.
Carolina’s dad shared his thoughts on being an effective parent advocate. “Educate yourself about the different programs and resources available”, “Get involved, getting involved is the best way to educate yourself and help others,” said Council member C.W. Gardenhire.
Carolina Gardenhire, 16
Please continue advocating and celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month throughout the month of March! Together we can do more, share more, and make a difference.
On social media search for and use the hashtag #DDawareness2021
History of DDAM
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan made a public proclamation that the month of March should be recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to “increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.” Though our mission remains largely the same, so much has changed since 1987. While we still aim to increase public awareness, our focus has shifted to the importance of inclusion and acceptance.
About the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities
The Council is a federally funded state agency that promotes integration, inclusion and independence for Arkansans with developmental disabilities. Council members are self-advocates, relatives and/or caregivers of individuals with DD, state agency directors, and representatives from nonprofit and private organizations that serve Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Council works to encourage self-advocacy; to remove barriers to information, services and support; to advocate for policy changes; to develop and support coalitions; and to educate community leaders. For more information about the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and its mission, browse more pages on this website GCDD.arkansas.gov, or call 501-682-2897. Follow the Council on Facebook and Twitter @gcddar. You can also find Arkansas GCDD on YouTube.
Assiah Lewellen, Program and Outreach Manager
Office of the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities
Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration