North Texas Festival Highlights Artists Living With Special Needs

A North Texas arts festival is focused on bringing the arts to those living with special needs.

The Achievement Center of Texas will host its ninth Special Arts Festival on March 19. The event is open to everyone, but pays special attention to those living with disabilities.

Denton artist John Bramblitt helped inspire the first festival.

"Art came to me at a time when I needed it the most," said Bramblitt.

Bramblitt turned to painting after losing his eyesight in 2001 after complications with epilepsy and Lyme disease.

"When I first started painting I was really angry at everything," said Bramblitt. "I was just mad that I didn't have the vision any more and after about six or eight months I realized you don't need eyesight to be able to appreciate art or even create art."

Bramblitt's art is now celebrated worldwide and he's an inspiration to the students at the Achievement Center of Texas, a training center for children and adults living with special needs.

"It's important for them to have a place where they can make friends, learn skills and have fun and do things throughout the day," said executive director Marilynne Serie.

Art is a big part of helping the center care for those students who have trouble communicating.

"We found involving them in art was an amazing way to get behaviors to slow down," said Marilynne Serie. 'We've had students absolutely come out of their shell."

The free festival draws hundreds of people and includes a mix of student and professional artists.

This year's event will include 30 different performances and 50 art activities. Bramblitt will also teach people what it's like to paint without sight.

The Special Arts Festival is Saturday, March 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Springcreek Church in Garland at 2660 Belt Line Road.

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