Creators like Rembrandt and Picasso get most of the attention from art enthusiasts, but at an art gallery’s silent auction, Prince George’s County special needs artists took center-frame as a local foundation raised money for its programs.
The Special People Enhancing Communities Foundation held a charity auction Feb. 26at Annie’s Art Gallery in Camp Springs to support special needs children. The money raised, about $1,300, went toward the upcoming One Community event to help public safety officials better understand special needs children, said Linda Grantham, SPEC Foundation vice president.
“Ultimately we want to figure out a way to connect service providers and special needs children in crisis,” said Debrah Martin, SPEC Foundation president. “So they know, when they come upon a child, to interface with the child differently.”
Prince George’s County special needs children in kindergarten through 12th grade, some with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, submitted artwork to the silent auction. The art ranged from drawings of Sonic the Hedgehog video game characters to abstract paintings.
Nia Baker, 17, of Bowie, said she contributed artwork to the show because she believes in SPEC’s cause.
“Everybody needs help once in a while,” Baker said. “Instead of watching TV, pick up a paintbrush.”
Dana Scott of Temple Hills whose son, James Roberts, 16, has autism and contributed art, said the event raised awareness in Prince George’s about people with special needs, allowed James to exercise his creativity and was a way to support his art.
“We thought it would be a good idea for him to submit the work … he loves to draw,” Scott said. “We want to encourage it more. I hope it gets people to understand that … just because someone doesn’t communicate the way you do … their possibilities are endless.”
Martin and her nonprofit plan to hold more charity auctions in an attempt to raise $5,000 for the One Community event planed for September.
County police and sheriff’s deputies receive training on how to handle special needs individuals, who may run or not understand police commands, but more training is not a bad thing, Sheriff Melvin High said. Even with all the training that officers receive, special needs children also need to be exposed to law enforcement so that they understand officers are there to help, not hurt, High said.
This story originally appeared in the Feb. 28 edition of The Prince George’s Gazette.