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OP to receive award from state disability organization

Opportunity Partners-Asplin Center, a day program serving people with disabilities in Plymouth, is receiving a Life Enrichment Award from the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) for an art program that provides therapy, increases pride, confidence and engagement among the people with disabilities it serves.

JT Buell pictured with his artwork

JT Buell pictured with his artwork

Presentation of the Life Enrichment Award is scheduled for Thursday, May 30 at 5 p.m. during the annual art show at Opportunity Partners-Asplin Center, 10000 51st Avenue North in Plymouth. The event runs from 4 to 7 p.m.

“Community-based providers are at the center of Minnesota’s effort to help people with disabilities to live fuller lives,” said MOHR President Julie Johnson. “Excellent programs give people options to engage and thrive in their communities.” The MOHR organization represents more than 100 such day programs across the state.

“People who thought they weren’t good at art, or perhaps were afraid to try it, have turned into artists,” said Julie Peters, communications director for Opportunity Partners. Asplin Center has had art instruction for years, but a new revival took place in 2016, after a remodeling drove the need for a more professional and inviting look on the inside walls, she explains.

Paintings and photographs from the individuals with disabilities at Asplin are chosen and hung throughout the building and a spring art show brings people in to admire the work, Peters said. “Some individuals have carried their newfound interest in art to their homes and community, as well.” Asplin Center serves 142 people.

A donation for art supplies and frames from a family served by Asplin sparked the art renewal. As artwork started going up on the walls, Peters said people got even more excited and things escalated. Art and photography classes went from two or three days a week to five, she said.

There’s a “person-centered” focus for the participants with disabilities, who choose the types of projects to take on. Peters said the instructor teaches skills such as shadowing, and artists share their own interests in picking out the type of project they would like to do to incorporate that skill. There are helpful social aspects, as well. “The individuals we serve are able to discuss the various elements and techniques used,” said Peters. “Art is a conversation starter!”

Johnson said Minnesota has always been a leader in the provision of services for people with disabilities, and MOHR members like Opportunity Partners play a crucial role. “We are connected as a community, and service providers are mission-driven by staff members who care deeply for the people they serve. That’s how individual lives are enriched.”

Asplin Center artists have taken their work offsite for display at a local library and at community art shows. Their designs also appear at other Opportunity Partners locations and the nonprofit prints art reproductions on notecards to distribute. An individual named Faith was very resistant to drawing. With coaching and practice, her skills improved, Peters explains. One of Faith’s drawings was featured on the Disability Services Day at the Capitol buttons worn by hundreds at the annual event in St. Paul.

The nonprofit’s state association and award organizer, MOHR, has a mission to advocate and support its nonprofit members in providing meaningful services to persons with disabilities and communities served.  Members are committed to respect for each individual, a person-centered approach and expanding opportunities. More information is available at mohrmn.org.

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