ArtWorks is a local grassroots program that provides all-day art classes for adults with developmental disabilities.

About 20 adults, with ages ranging from 23 to 71, take part. ArtWorks' goal is to provide them with the instruction and supplies to explore their own self-expression.

Co-founder Mary Paulin's original inspiration, Art a la Carte, was an idea that she started almost 30 years ago. Paulin and a student volunteer drove a van filled with artwork on loan from the University of Arizona’s art museum to visit special-education classes across the city.

Paulin decided to change the focus of the program from children to adults with developmental disabilities when she realized that almost no programs or resources existed for them.

For most, their 21st birthday would signal the end of any attention or help from social services.

Today, almost 25 years after the founding of ArtWorks, Paulin is quick to cite the innovative approach of director Yumi Shirai, a dance therapist from Japan, as a key ingredient in the program's success.

ArtWorks receives support from UA's Department of Family and Community Medicine, under the supervision of Thom Melendez.

The goal, Artworks teachers and artists agree, is to celebrate and cultivate the abilities of a group of people whose talents could easily go unrecognized.

The ArtWorks studio is at 1509 E. Helen St.