Every year, millions of young children with disabilities or at risk of developmental delays enter school already far behind other children. Many never catch up. By identifying and treating a delay early on, kids with autism and other disabilities have the best chance of succeeding in life and developing on par with their peers. As the nation’s leading nonprofit provider of autism and early intervention services, Easter Seals knows the impact early intervention services can make to strengthen children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual abilities well before kindergarten.
In 2011, for the sixth year, CVS Caremark was the National Premier Sponsor of Easter Seals Walk With Me, Easter Seals’ national signature fundraising event that raises millions each year to help change the lives of people living with autism and other disabilities. CVS Caremark has provided nearly $7 million in support of Walk With Me since 2006, when the company became the national premier sponsor of the event and chose Easter Seals as a national partner in its All Kids Can program. In addition, through CVS Caremark’s Walk With Me program, $4.15 million has been raised by nearly 20,000 CVS Caremark colleagues nationwide.
CVS Caremark All Kids Can teamed up again in 2011 with VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, to support inclusive arts education with the 2011 All Kids Can CREATE student artists program. The annual national initiative invites students, ages five to fifteen, to submit artwork to be showcased in a national exhibit in which each state and the District of Columbia are represented. The All Kids Can CREATE for 2011 invited young artists with and without disabilities to submit a piece of artwork under the theme, “Imagination Across America.”
The collection of submissions became a national touring exhibition featuring a total of 102 pieces of artwork, representing two student artists from each state and the District of Columbia. It debuted in Washington, D.C. on June 15, 2011 and CVS Caremark brought 10 artists, their families and five of their teachers to the event.
An expert panel of judges, including artists and art educators, selected the 102 pieces of artwork out of more than 4,700 entries submitted from artists across the country. All of the artwork submitted, from paintings to sculptures to photographs, were also featured in an online gallery.
The All Kids Can CREATE exhibition is just one part of VSA and CVS Caremark’s yearlong partnership, which also included support of state VSA affiliates that encourage learning and community engagement through artistic expression. Strategic grants at the state level also support artist-in-residence programs in schools that expand access and document learning through the arts for students with disabilities. CVS Caremark employees also participate by volunteering in activities in their communities and schools to help build inclusive environments.