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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Rosa

Community Access to the Arts

Community Access to the Arts (CATA) is using the power of the arts to foster connection and opportunity for students with disabilities. Every week, students in special education and alternative learning classrooms across the Berkshires are getting creative and exploring their talents in painting, yoga, acting, dance, and more.

CATA provides year-round arts programs for more than 1,000 people with disabilities of all ages throughout our community. To reach so many people, CATA partners with 52 organizations, including eight school districts, as well as disability agencies, day programs, residences, and community centers.

In CATA’s school programs, you can find students expressing their creativity and learning new skills every day of the week: Bibana at Pittsfield High School practices new juggling techniques and builds skills in hand/eye coordination. Avery at North Adams Public Schools mixes paint to create a shade of blue for her self portrait. Liam at Wahconah High School builds self-confidence and communication skills in an acting class. George at Monument Mountain High School taps into his talents and shares his love of music.

CATA staff work closely with school administrators and teachers to develop programs that meet the individual goals and interests of their students. Talented, professional faculty artists lead the workshops, where students explore new interests and build skills in collaboration, communication, movement, coordination, and self-expression. “CATA offers such great experiences for our students,” says Ellie Rizzo, Special Education teacher at W.E.B. Du Bois Regional Middle School. “It’s amazing to see the many, many smiles during and after CATA workshops. We value our partnership!”

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