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New vocational program to help artists with learning disabilities

Starlight Studio and Art Gallery (SSAG), the art program of the Learning Disabilities Association of WNY (LDA of WNY), has announced its intentions to develop a vocational program that will help to create needed opportunities for Starlight students who, up until this point, have been focusing on purely artistic endeavors. “We’ve seen funding streams for sheltered vocational workshops in NYS slowly diminish,” says Community Relations Director, Parrish Gibbons. “At LDA of WNY, we’ve always recognized the importance of providing our individuals with the skills they need to succeed in their own lives. Adapting our current day-habilitation program, Starlight, is another example of how we work with our individuals to meet their personal goals while increasing competitive employment for people with disabilities.”

Last year, the organizations joined forces with Squeaky Wheel to offer artists the chance to create stop-action animation videos. Thanks to instrumental grant funding, Starlight students were able to divert from their standard artistic programming to learn an entirely new skill set. With the help of Squeaky Wheel Media Center, an alternate focus on technology and photography enabled SSAG to move forward with alternate programming that turned out to be a major success.

Now, the intention is to create a vocational program called Reach for the Stars. “The initiative is to provide artists with help recognizing what they want to do with their lives, the things that make them happy,” says Starlight artist Angela Robb (lead image), who works primarily in jewelry making. “I want to make it easier for people to know about my jewelry, so I am working towards making my own business cards and attending more craft shows on my own.”

“Our artists are so primed for this experience, says Carrie Marcotte, Director of Starlight Studio, “Because they are artists, they are used to exploring and they’re used to expressing themselves.”

“The artists will have an opportunity to explore and recognize their potential,” says Mary Greisbaum, Vocational Coordinator “we are confident between the combination of creativity and vocational training that Reach for the Stars will just be the beginning to the possibilities that will open up for each artist.”

Individuals interested in the Starlight program are encouraged to set up a tour by calling (716) 842-1525.

For more information on what Starlight is up to, visit or follow them on Facebook & Twitter.

For more information on LDA of WNY, please visit or visit the agency’s Facebook page at


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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