A conference tomorrow and Saturday will showcase works from artists with developmental disabilities. Lanai High School senior Jocelyn Taal will feature her pottery.

Lanai High School senior
gets on the artistic track

Lanai High School senior Jocelyn Taal will be among artists with developmental disabilities displaying their works during a conference, "Making It on Our Own," tomorrow and Saturday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Her booth will feature some of the 100 orange and black pumpkins she created from clay this month.

Taal's senior year took a different direction after she told teachers and special-education advocates that pottery "is the only thing I care about and want to do in my life."

She was struggling in school, and rather than let her become a dropout, school psychologist Sharie Liden recommended the individualized-education plan team look at how Taal could shift successfully from school to a career as an artist.

A new plan was written in September, and she received 50 pounds of clay from the Lanai Art Center program. She made 50 pumpkins by the first week of this month and had 50 more ready to glaze and fire.

Taal will join about a dozen artists with developmental disabilities at the third annual Self-Determination Conference.

Her twin sister, Jessalyn, and teachers Carla Reader and Christina Ehret will accompany her to the conference.

"It's been fun because everyone is starting to understand how real this can be for Jocelyn's future success and the futures of others with developmental disabilities," Liden said.

Jocelyn's math teacher helped her prepare a "100 Pumpkin Business Plan," an inventory list and receipts. Her English teacher helped her write an artist's profile, and another teacher helped her design a business card, Liden said.

More than 500 people with developmental and other disabilities, families, professionals, educators, advocates, service providers and others are expected to attend the conference.

Jean Driscoll, Olympic silver medalist and Paralympian, and Joe Entwisle, Wisconsin Social Security System senior analyst, will be among guest speakers. Cassilly Woll, a Special Olympics silver medal winner, and her supporters also will speak.

Arts and crafts produced by people with developmental disabilities will be available to buy in a minigallery at the Palace Lounge from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, call 453-6325.


UH program wins
$800,000 grant

The Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawaii recently won an $800,000 federal grant to encourage the teaching of students with disabilities in regular classrooms.

In Hawaii, disabled children spend less of their school day in regular classrooms than in other states, according to the center.

Project TACT (Teaching All Children Together) will train 75 teachers and teachers-to-be how to educate children with disabilities by using the regular curriculum in general-education classrooms.

Most of the money will go to these teachers, who will be required to provide services to students with disabilities for two years for each year they receive a stipend.

The U.S. Office of Special Education Programs chose Project TACT as one of 15 projects across the country, from a pool of 163 applications. Courses for Project TACT begin next spring.


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