Kim Jade Vice.
Image: Madeleine Chaput

The Belgravia Art Centre recently started teaching art classes at College Street Primary and in just three short weeks the students, most of who have autism spectrum disorder, produced wonderful creations that received great results at the East London Primary Schools Art Exhibition.

Hosted by the Belgravia Art Centre, the exhibition included over 900 entries from grades 1 to 7 students and saw 20 different schools taking part.

College Street students from Grade 1 to Grade 3 submitted an array of 2D and 3D art.

“It’s our first time teaching at a special needs school and we are really proud of our teacher, Vasti Petzer, and the children for what they’ve managed to accomplish in such a short time,” said Belgravia Art Centre principal, Terry Schultz.

College Street forms part of Belgravia’s part-time primary schools class and racked up two double gold, 21 gold and eight silver awards, with a total of 31 entries.

College Street Primary School principal Craig Graham said the school was very excited to see how well their students had done.

“They’ve only been doing this for a couple of weeks, so I was definitely surprised with the results and we’re really excited for what these art classes have done for our kids,” said Graham.

One of the many grade 1 students who exhibited her work, Kim-Jade Vice, 7, received two of the 21 gold awards achieved by College Street.

Graham said one of their young students had received a double gold for his stunning drawings of lamp posts.

“Vasti has done what we haven’t been able to do and given these kids an outlet, and we’re really excited to show the kids that they’ve received awards for their work,” said Graham.

While the school has had art classes in the past, it is the first time they have introduced art to grade 1 and grade 2 classes for children with autism and it has proven to be a great success.

“At first we were a bit nervous and thought Vasti might not come back after the first week because there were kids eating the clay and all sorts, but she’s been amazing,” said Graham.

Petzer said that she has had an extremely rewarding experience at College Street so far and was really proud of the children and the effort they put into their artwork.

“I have noticed that with the children being able to express themselves through creative projects, their imagination, concentration and fine motor skills were being developed and stimulated.

“It is a privilege for us to have the opportunity to extend our services to as many children as possible and we sincerely hope that we can continue to do so. Art creates the opportunity of self-expression, self-awareness and growth,” Schultz said.

The exhibition will be open daily until Friday at the Belgravia Art Centre and all are welcome to visit.

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