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All Access Digital Arts Camp (plans and activities for teens with cognitive and intellectual disabilities)

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Language Arts And English +11 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

SCLDA's All Access Digital Arts Program (2012-2016) provided skill-building opportunities in digital arts and communications, creative expression, and social inclusion to a spectrum of teen learners in the Washington, DC metro area. Participating youth visited Smithsonian science, history, and art museums, created digital and physical artworks based upon a tailored curriculum, engaged in social interactions online and in-person, gained digital literacy skills, and developed friendships with other teens.

Through once-per-month club outreach activities and summer intensive camps and workshops, students were exposed to communication, collaborative learning, research, and problem solving. The program served up to 20 youth per session, ages 14 through 22 with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. The youth experienced skill-building, leadership opportunities, and social integration through Smithsonian resources, socialization opportunities, and computer skills. Youth participated in 1.) One- and two-week multi-media digital arts workshops whose outcome was student-produced artworks, songs, and movies that were shared with family and friends at openings and online via a social network; and 2.) club activities--to build upon skills developed during the summer, and maintain social connections.

At the Access Summer Camp workshops, teens learn to tell their own stories through digital arts and media. They focused on a specific story to tell based upon their interests. Content for their artistic self-expressions took the form of printed digital portraits and “sonic self-portrait” digital music compositions, as well as documentary iMovies. Teens toured Smithsonian museums, visited exhibitions and interviewed curators and educators, as well as conducted internet research. Teens ate lunch together and socialized during game breaks. Volunteers worked with teens to provide individual supports and facilitate the experience. Smithsonian educators and neurotypical teen youth mentors guided Access teens to edit their content using photo, sound, and movie editing software.   The movies, portraits, and songs premiered at the Hirshhorn Museum’s ARTLAB+ for family and friends, with teens themselves providing introductory remarks for their artworks. Each teen received a certificate of completion, a digital copy of their artwork, and a framed self-portrait. An evaluation session on the final day of the workshops allowed teens to express their thoughts to the workshop organizers.