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Cary Odell

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Cary Odell

Cary is an Art Program Director who has been a DSP for 14 years. In 2013 she began supporting individuals in the agency’s Emerging Artists Program and has made a huge impact on the community and artists she supports.

Cary and the artists have had a profound impact on how others in their local communities view people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Cary has been able to break down stereotypes by emphasizing the artistic abilities of the individuals, their unique interests, and strengths. During a community art show in early 2015, as patrons stopped to view the artwork, the artists easily engaged them in conversation and answered their questions. It was obvious that these patrons viewed the two gentlemen working the show as legitimate artists and it was as if their disabilities didn’t exist.

As a result of Cary’s continued advocacy and positive public perception of Emerging Artists, the program is now being included in the design of a new cultural arts center being developed in this Kansas community. This will allow the art studio to be moved from the center-based day program to a location that includes a variety of arts-related organizations.

Beth Johnson’s letter of nomination speaks volumes about this talented DSP: “Everything that Cary does exemplifies the respect of human dignity and uniqueness of the people she supports. She shares stories that demonstrate the amazing talent and gifts of the people we support. Each time one of the artists achieves a new milestone, Cary eagerly shares it with others and her joy and enthusiasm is contagious. Over time, this is shaping the perception of others towards people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a manner that is leading to greater levels of community inclusion.”