A tiger lurks ready to pounce. A panda peeks out from behind bamboo leaves. A pride of lions strolls on the plains. A wide-eyed man points quizzically at a book. All the remarkable creations of a young artist named Abby.
Abby is a HIPster at My Possibilities. Based in Plano, My Possibilities is a unique continuing education program for disabled Texans who have “aged out” of secondary education.
Abby, who is on the Autism spectrum, first came to My Possibilities as a high school senior, an incredibly polite young woman with a burning desire to paint. With a genuine interest in visual arts, Abby’s innate ability shined as something truly special. From the beginning, she established a unique style of painting characterized by vibrant blocks of color filled with intrinsic detail—a clear translation of the way she viewed the world around her.
“We had a great deal to work with as we taught Abby how to develop her talent,” Casey Parrott realized, Create Program Lead at My Possibilities, and a talented working artist himself. “She used these elements deftly, and the staff chomped at the bit to see what she would make next.”
Then came the time that arrives for all individuals with special needs. Abby graduated from high school and ultimately phased out of the public school system. Luckily for Abby, this meant that she would now attend My Possibilities as a full-time student. This change marked a new phase in Abby’s artistic career, as she developed her ability to a whole new level. With each passing month, her technique improved, and she quickly developed her own intricate work process: First, she would sketch her vision; next, she would make a color version to test her color palette; then, she would initiate the final painting. Meanwhile, Casey noticed something else unique in what Abby was doing. “Abby utilized techniques learned in previous pieces to enhance her new work.” By layering techniques in this way, each painting was even better than the last. The result—a calibre of art far beyond her years.
In 2014, Abby’s work was showcased in her first solo art exhibit. Of the 22 pieces exhibited, 17 were sold. Casey, a professionally trained artist, laughs as he remarks, “Abby sold more pieces in a single show than I have sold in my entire career as an artist.” As Abby’s instructor, he couldn’t be more proud.
The best part of all? Abby has chosen not to keep a single penny from any of her art sales. Instead, Abby donates it all right back into the program, so that My Possibilities can continue to serve individuals just like her—her friends, confidantes, and fellow HIPsters.
Abby is just one example of the potential and possibilities that adults with disabilities have. Given an opportunity to learn in an educational environment, their possibilities really are endless.
A safe haven. A home away from home. These are just a couple of ways that people refer to an organization in Plano called My Possibilities. This nonprofit serves as a continuing education and vocational training program for adults with intellectual and cognitive disabilities. Such individuals can have a wide range of diagnoses including Autism, Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injuries and neurological disorders, among others.
The unique individuals that attend My Possibilities are lovingly referred to as HIPsters–Hugely Important People. Qualified staff provide education and therapy to more than 175 HIPsters every day and nearly 350 each week.
Today, My Possibilities is considered a leader in the local community and throughout North Texas, providing vocational training and educational opportunities in the areas of independent living skills development, as well as health and wellness for adults with disabilities.
More specifically, the organization is the first full-day, full-year continuing education program in Collin County for disabled Texans who have “aged out” of secondary education.