A mural commemorating the 10th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act will grace the Ed Roberts Campus in a few years. The campus at the Ashby BART station, is proposed for the future home of a number of agencies which support people with special needs.
Friday, a group of disabled and able-bodied children and teenagers worked together on tiles which will become part of the campus’ Disability Civil Rights Mural.
The roughly 80 youths are part of the city’s “inclusion” recreation program aimed at bringing together young people with varying abilities.
“One of the things that I have done for many, many years is art projects, because they create a level playing field,” said Elaine Belkind, coordinator of the Inclusion Program.
The mural, put together like a quilt, will feature hundreds of square one-foot tiles made by disabled and non-disabled people alike.
Integrated Arts, a Berkeley-based organization, is coordinating the mural and holding events through several agencies around the Bay Area for people to create squares. The fact that the mural is created by people with disabilities and able bodied people together goes along with the Inclusion program’s structure, where the breakdown of children is about half with disabilities and half without.
“The kids without disabilities, a lot of times they are very surprised to learn that some of their disabled friends can do things that really amaze them,” Belkind said. “One young man who has some behavioral disabilities is a very skilled artist, and he can draw all the Pokemons. And all his peers are impressed with that.”
“People learn that it is OK to be different and that diversity is a good thing.”
The mural will eventually go up in a passage way between the Ed Roberts Campus and the Ashby BART station. However, since the Ed Roberts Campus will not be constructed for several years, the mural will be displayed elsewhere in the meantime.
One of the sites where the mural will most likely be found is in Berkeley City Hall. A cross-country trip to display the work is also possible.
“It’s like the AIDS quilt,” said Frances Valesco, the mural coordinator. “It’s a great way to commemorate the ADA. When you think about it, it’s hard to believe that 10 years ago there was no disability act in the United States.”
Those interested in creating a tile for the mural are welcome to drop by the Integrated Arts studio at 933 Parker Street on Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. Call (510) 841-1466 or e-mail ADA_Mural@integratedarts.org for more information.