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917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
(415) 457-4878

Arts Unite Us (previously VSA)












Reaching All Learners

Scroll down to find out about our IEP ARTS LESSON EXCHANGE Databank

“Arts Unite Us” (previously VSA) provides opportunities for students with special needs and different learning styles to share their creative voices and bring people of all abilities together through the arts. Programs include tailored residencies in special education classrooms culminating in “sharing sessions” for peers and family, integrated residencies that engage special education and general education students in collaborative projects.

Youth in Arts has a long commitment to providing arts learning opportunities for youth of all abilities. For decades we have been the only consistent arts provider in Marin County’s Special Day Classrooms (SDCs), and in 1981 we became an affiliate of VSA, an international, nonprofit organization founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society where all people with disabilities learn through, participate in and enjoy the arts. Presently we receive a contract from the Kennedy Center to provide for some of our programming.

We created the “Arts Unite Us” initiative in 2008, specifically to address the isolation that we saw many of our students with special needs and their families experiencing in school. In 2013 we decided to bring all of our programs for individuals of different abilities under the “Arts Unite Us” name, to celebrate how the arts provide and accessible way for children to share their creative voices. So many times in these programs, we have seen children who do not speak express themselves through song or through visual art. And in our integrated residencies where youth with and without disabilities work side by side, we see not only creative collaborations develop, but true friendships.

YIA Mentor Artists who teach in “Arts Unite Us” programs are highly skilled at adapting programs for differed ability levels, as well as behavioral or emotional challenges. Residencies can address many IEP goals including Fine/Gross Motor Skills, Verbal Skills, Language Development, Visual-Spatial Awareness, Social Skills, Concept Development and Adaptive Behavior.



Every day we see how arts impacts and engages all different kinds of learners. Youth in Arts is creating an IEP Arts Lesson Exchange Databank an online searchable database of arts activities for classroom teachers and teaching artists. Educators and artists will be invited to add to the bank with an easy on-line form. Each record will have a space for comments, as well as links to other resources related to the activity. Check back here and sign up for our email list for updates.

To add your own activity. Please fill out this form.

For more information on bringing visual or performing arts to your special education classrooms or creating a truly integrated program for your students, email Suzanne Joyal or call 415-457-4878 ext. 120.