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Window on the World

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An art program called the Tropical Rain Forest Re-Creation project, designed especially for deaf and hard-of-hearing elementary school students, meets for its first session Saturday.

The program, also open to the hearing public, will be held for eight sessions at Barranca Vista Recreation Center in Ventura.

Vet, a Ventura-based artist exhibited locally and throughout Southern California, will instruct the children in the use of recycled materials for creating original art.

Complete sign-language interpreting services will be provided during the classes, donated by the Tri-County GLAD, a subsidiary of the Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness, which wants to expand access to after-school programs and cultural arts programming for deaf children.

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As to her project, Vet explains, “Students will create different works--such as a creature or plants from the rain forest--to see how it relates to our survival on the Earth. A paper rain-forest mural will be made up as a backdrop for displaying all the things they have learned during the course.”

In the first session, students will learn to make “rainstix,” an exercise Vet has devised to show kids how to use recycled paper tubes to make a kind of aboriginal rattle. She has modified the project, a mainstay of other courses she has conducted for the city’s recreation program, to include contents that deaf students can feel vibrating inside their new creations.

Many of the materials for the program are being donated by Bill McNelly, owner of Fast Frame in Ventura. And for students who cannot afford the $40 fee for the eight sessions, 10 scholarships are being offered by Amgen of Thousand Oaks and the Ventura County Public Health Tobacco Education Program.

“Promoting the preservation of rain forests also supports the preservation of indigenous farming methods,” said Vet, by way of explaining the anti-tobacco connection. “Tobacco cultivation [however] ruins the soil, ends the sustainable agricultural practices and the local barter-based economy of the rain forest.”

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Ever the artist-activist, Vet last week couldn’t help but recruit The Times photographer who took the picture for this story to the recycling cause.

“I got him to agree to save empty film canisters, and give them to me for the kids to use in art projects,” she said.

She would also like to see her activities as a teacher--even as she continues to paint and exhibit--serve as encouragement to other local artists. “I hope they will come forward to serve the under-served kids, such as the deaf and also kids in trouble,” she said.

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BE THERE

Tropical Rain Forest Re-Creation project: For deaf and hard-of-hearing children, grades 1-6, from 1-2 p.m. Sat. at Barranca Vista Recreation Center, 7050 E. Ralston St., Ventura. Enrollment fee: $40. To register, call Ventura Community Services (805) 658-4726 or TDD 654-7788.

Scholarship: To apply for scholarships, call Tri-County GLAD, a subsidiary of the Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness Inc. (805) 648-4523 (voice and TDD).

Future Programs: Special events for deaf and hard-of-hearing children--call GLAD or Ginny Hogue, senior recreation leader, Adaptive Program, Ventura (805) 658-4753.

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