Turning a Disability into an Ability

At Yaymaker, we believe that art and creativity should be accessible to all people regardless of ability level. For those living with conditions that make it difficult to partake in certain types of activities, words like “limitation” and “disability” can feel more like a challenge than something that holds them back.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Randy, a New Hampshire man who recently attended a Paint Your Pet Paint event. Randy is totally blind but through sheer determination and the help of local event host, Katrina, he proved that visual “disabilities” don’t necessarily prevent people from expressing themselves through painting.

Meet Katrina and Randy

Katrina, a veteran event host for Yaymaker, has hosted events for about 6 years and has experience teaching children and young adults with physical and emotional disabilities. She loves teaching people of all ages how to thrive in an artistic setting and grow as individuals – and for this reason, she is a popular event host in New Hampshire.

Katrina is also a dog lover, which is how she met Randy and his guide dog Autumn one night as she set up for her Paint Nite event at a local restaurant. She explained the concept of Paint Nite and how Paint Your Pet events work. When Randy expressed an interest in attending an event at the Boston Billiard Club & Casino in Nashua, Katrina came up with an ingenious idea to make it easier for Randy to participate in the event: black glue outlining the shape of Autumn’s portrait.

She explained to me that she “decided the black glue on the canvas would be best. I have a background in teaching art – that is what I went to school for so black glue is something I have used in lesson plans before… it just popped into my head as the best approach so he could feel the lines. His dog is also black so I figured it would blend in nice instead of regular glue.”

Nothing is “impossible”

An event was soon on the calendar, open to the public, and many of Randy’s friends attended. Among them were his wife, Tracy, and his sister-in-law, Monique. The event started just like any other Yaymaker event – reciting the oath, some light drinking, and a ton of laughter.

Katrina provided some additional accommodations to make Randy’s experience more user-friendly. She portioned out paint into small cups rather than on a flat paper plate. This allowed Randy to paint color by color and know exactly which color he used at each step. Monique also helped Randy decide where each color belonged on his canvas as he used his sense of touch to find the glue lines Katrina outlined from Autumn’s picture.

Checking in on his progress and making suggestions, Katrina and her assistant/boyfriend Ryan also made frequent stops by Randy’s canvas.

Meanwhile, for instructional purposes, Katrina used another canvas with Autumn’s sketch on it as the sample painting to guide the event. At the conclusion of the event, she donated the painting for a charity event supporting 2020 Vision Quest, for which Randy serves as president.

This incredible charitable organization works to raise funds for critically necessary services and equipment that allow people with visual impairments to prosper. Among these services is the training of guide dogs like Autumn, who allow people who are mostly blind to navigate the world independently. Furthermore, 2020 Vision Quest provides education about “ability awareness” along with opportunities for people to try new activities previously thought to be “impossible” for those with visual impairments. Now, painting can be added to the list of limitations that are possible for people who are blind. Randy fully embodies the mission and values of 2020 Vision Quest. As noted by Katrina, “he was more a free spirit, never once saying he couldn’t do it. I have learned that is very much his personality. It seems he would try anything and that his vision loss does not get in the way.”

Working past limitations

Yaymaker events are not just about art and creativity – they’re also about enjoying a night out with friends and family and trying something new (or familiar) in a social atmosphere. Our events are about having fun, regardless of what you’re creating. Our goal is for you to take away a wonderful memory of the night, so artistic ability has little to do with the magic that happens when a group of people simply laugh, play, and create.

Randy expressed this sentiment in his review shortly after his Paint Your Pet event: “I feel so fortunate to have been there and to have experienced the various people and approaches that made this possible. Not once throughout the process did anyone suggest words like “can’t” or “impossible” Instead, great people like Katrina asked questions like “How could we do this?” and by creative problem solving provided a process for me to take part. My sister-in-law Monique was incredible as well talking me through it. The reality is there are many talented people in all manner of activities and painting isn’t likely to be one of my stronger suits. When I want to join friends for a night out celebrating ability awareness and giving a tribute to my beautiful guide dog, well that is very much possible… if there’s the right mindset in all of us. Thank you BBC&C, Katrina, Ryan, Monique, Tracy and of course Autumn! What a wonderful night and demonstration of teamwork.”

We’ll show you what’s possible

Yaymaker hosts a variety of events including Paint Nite, Plant Nite, Design a Sign, and Candle Maker, and we want guests of all abilities to experience these creative events. Our hosts are dedicated to making them accessible and have the expertise to come up with innovative solutions. As Katrina told me, “I think all of our experiences can be altered one way or another to accommodate anyone with a disability. There are so many easy solutions for a guest to get an experience like the rest of us and we should always be striving to make that happen for them.”

At Yaymaker, we strive to make art and creativity accessible to everyone, regardless of disabilities, abilities, or perceived limitations. If you or someone you love want to attend any of our Yaymaker events and need additional accommodations in order to participate, please contact us and we will work with you to make that happen. Drop us a note and a Customer Service Agent can work with you to accommodate your needs.

And if you’d like to help support the mission of 2020 Vision Quest, please make a donation.

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