The Arts Are For All!

PTA believes that all children deserve opportunities to explore and participate in the arts and to be recognized for their achievements. While children with special needs have always been welcomed to the National PTA Reflections® program, National PTA recognizes that some children may be better served in a division that can better support their unique challenges. The Special Artist Division provides this choice.

Bradley Mauger, "On the Raindy River"

Bradley Mauger, “On the Rainy River”

This past year, the Special Artist Division emerged as an optional division for students whose physical, cognitive, or mental health challenges meet guidelines put forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This division was created as an alternative mode of entry for participants with special needs.  Students with disabilities have the option to enter and participate in the National PTA Reflections program within the Special Artist Division or whichever Grade Division is most closely aligned with their functional abilities.

Please check with your State PTA regarding availability in your state of residence and click here to learn more about division guidelines.


Sarah Khan, “Sarah’s Friendship”

In the summer of 2013, National PTA piloted a program called the Special Artist Workshops that gave students with special needs and disabilities the opportunity to participate in intensive, high quality arts learning experiences. Workshops led by a teaching team of Special Education teachers, teaching artists, and PTA leaders provided students and their families the opportunity to learn in a supportive artistic and educational environment. This pilot is just one example of how Reflections continues to provide us with the opportunity to engage families and build strong family-school-community partnerships.

Visit the National PTA Reflections Gallery for a complete list of Reflections award recipients including submissions from our Special Artist Division.

Students with special needs and disabilities experience greater challenges in everyday life than their peers. Oftentimes, they are unaware of how to express their thoughts, feelings, and dreams, and through art, they are able to blossom and find success.  PTA Reflections Special Artist Division provides these students the opportunity to blossom with the added benefit of engaging their parents and communities in their success.

For more information on how students with disabilities learn through the arts visit our national partner, Kennedy Center/VSA.

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