Kids with Special Needs Partner with W&M Students for Buddy Art

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Buddy Art is a program from Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center that pairs volunteers from William and Mary with children with special needs for an afternoon of arts and crafts. (Courtesy Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center)
Buddy Art is a program from Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center that pairs volunteers from William and Mary with children with special needs for an afternoon of arts and crafts. (Courtesy Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center)

The fall session of Buddy Art at the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center is now accepting applications for kids who want to take part in this biannual arts and crafts program.

The Buddy Art program, for children 7 and older who have special needs or physical disabilities, is run by volunteers from WCAC and the College of William & Mary’s Sharpe Community Scholars Program, which is made up of a select group of freshmen who integrate community engagement and research with their academic studies.

Offered each fall and spring, Buddy Art is a series of four to six art classes during which kids with special needs are paired with a buddy who will aid them in completing arts and crafts projects.

Each session features five stations, each with a different type of art project or craft. In the past stations have included finger painting, clay, collage, drawing, tamping and easel painting.

Children can choose to spend all of their time at one station or try several different ones in the course of a session, depending on their interest and ability. Kids will work one-on-one with their assigned buddy, and each station will have an additional volunteer on hand to explain the activity and how to work with the materials.

Though any given class will have multiple different activities, every session has an overarching theme, such as “self portraits” or “fall leaves.”

Parents are welcome to work on the crafts with their children or just observe the class. Buddies will be assigned regardless of parents’ participation so the parent can enjoy the activity and not have to worry about managing materials and setup.

This fall’s classes are scheduled for Sept. 12 and 19; Oct. 3, 17 and 31; and Nov. 7. All classes take place from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturdays in rooms A and B at the James City County Recreation Center.

This is a free program and interested parties can register here. There is no deadline for registration but spots fill up quickly.

Additionally, anyone wishing to volunteer for Buddy Art or donate art supplies should call 757-229-4949 or email Karen Schwartz, Buddy Art coordinator, at buddy.art@thiscenturyartgallery.org.