Of the Baker City Herald

The Baker County Developmental Disabilities Commission is offering free recreational and artistic opportunities this summer for community members with developmental disabilities. The activities are free thanks to a grant from the Leo Adler Community Foundation.

The Crossroads Arts Center ArtFirst Program is one of the opportunities and includes specially-designed art classes for developmentally disabled children and adults.

Commission Chairperson Pamela Van Duyn said this is the first year that the activities have been offered at the center.

Van Duyn said the classes are taught by Ruth Hasel and are specially designed to have a small number of participants in a quiet, controlled setting and taught in a hands-on, highly visual manner.

It is important to provide people with developmental disabilities opportunities like these because they are not disabled in all ways. These activities provide a chance for them to explore their artistic talents free of their disability and let their gifts flourish, Van Duyn said.

Hasel said that so far she has had only a few participants, but they have had a great time and are excited about coming back for future classes.

Classes for children ages 3-13 are from 10 a.m. to noon, July 17, 19, 31 and Aug. 2. Adult classes are for people over age 14 and are scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon, July 28, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25.

The Baker Family YMCA offers a swim time for program participants every Sunday from 3-4 p.m.

In the future we would like to include horseback riding and other country activities, Van Duyn said.

The swimming and bowling facilities have existed for years and it is remarkable how few of the developmentally disabled have experienced them, she said. This program helps them to enjoy our wonderful community facilities.

The Baker Classic Bowl visits continue July 22, Aug. 12 and Aug. 26. Call 523-5577 for more information.

Art First participants must preregister a week ahead by calling 523-5369.

Those interested in the swim sessions can contact the Baker Family YMCA at 523-7747.