Rogers Leary

Rogers Leary is one of many participants in the “Creative Like Me” exhibit. Leary loves a good cup of coffee while joining others on the virtual afternoon social chat.

The Fulton County Departments of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and Arts and Culture’s newest exhibit gives a personal look at the impacts of COVID-19 on the county’s adults with disabilities.

This year’s theme is “Our New Normal” observing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of Fulton County citizens. The exhibit features art and photography created by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive services at three centers operated by Fulton County BHDD.

A virtual ceremony celebrating the relaunch of its “Creative Like Me” program will be held on March 4, at 11 a.m. This kickoff is part of efforts to observe March as National Developmental Disabilities Month.

“While the global pandemic has challenged our ability to operate business as usual, the need for arts and culture could not be greater,” Dr. Pamela Roshell, Fulton County Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Health and Human Services, said. “I am extremely proud of what this collaboration between the Departments of Arts and Culture and Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has achieved. COVID-19 has highlighted the role that the arts can play in uniting one another; improving mental health during stressful and isolated situations, and providing a creative outlet for expressing complex emotions.”

The 2020 curriculum focused on activities that utilized equipment and supplies that participants would have easy access to, ensuring greater participation and engagement with the project.”

The art on display for this event was created over the summer months of 2020. The photographs and pieces created by Fulton County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities clients with intellectual developmental disabilities and show how these people’s lives were affected by coronavirus. These clients produced this work with the assistance of Arts & Culture staff despite both arts centers and BHDD facilities closing due to the virus in March 2020. Staff communicated with clients digitally to produce this work.

“I am very excited about this exhibit because it represents inclusion of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities into the conversation of how their lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” LaTrina R. Foster, Director of the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, said. “Since the pandemic began, the news has chronicled its effect on people of all ages and demographic groups; however, we have only recently heard about its impact on people with disabilities. CREATIVE LIKE ME – OUR NEW NORMAL gives this community an important voice to express how they are coping during the greatest public health emergency of our generation.”

Previously the two departments collaborated on an earlier edition of the “Creative Like Me” program, an effort that won County staff national honors from the National Association of Counties. More can be found on this program at https://creativelikeme.myportfolio.com/.

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