SOLANA BEACH — With recycled materials, newly formed friendships and talent most didn’t know they had, seven young women held their first art show Dec. 1 at Re-Gallery in the Cedros Design District.
The event was also a first for Xcite Steps, a Del Mar-based organization that supports, enriches and empowers the lives of children, teens and young adults who experience cognitive disabilities.
Re-Gallery owner Lester Corral taught the eight-week art-inclusion club, designed to be a nonjudgmental place for those who struggle with social interactions, connecting with others and maintaining friendships.
“It’s all about making friends and doing fun activities,” Xcite Steps co-founder Stefan Hochfilzer said. “There aren’t a lot of enrichment programs, especially after school, so most of these kids are stuck at home and don’t have peer interaction.
“We provide opportunities for these kids and teens for social interaction and personal growth,” Hochfilzer said.
“Tonight they showcase their talent,” co-founder Matt Winkley said. “You can see their pride. They glow, and it’s with dignity.”
The artwork will remain on display, with some pieces for sale. Kellie Hoff, however, is keeping her “Cancer Ribbon” sculpture for personal reasons, while Charise Miller is giving her “Bird in Paradise” painting as a Christmas gift.
“This club has given these girls a sense of empowerment and inspiration and it has helped ease the anxieties of trying new things with people they didn’t know,” Pam Machala of Xcite Steps said.
The recent classes included females between the ages of 16 and 24, but the sessions are open to all who qualify.
The next eight-week course will begin in February.
“I loved it,” Hoff said of the art club. “I learned there’s an artistic side to me that I didn’t know I had.”
Solana Beach residents Winkley and Hochfilzer, who both have backgrounds in developmental disabilities, started Xcite Steps in 2005. The programs include one-on-one mentoring, social group activities, recreational sports clubs, camps and adult disability services.
Visit excitesteps.com or call (858) 703-7305 for more information.
Re-Gallery, located at 348 S. Cedros Ave., specializes in artifacts made from reclaimed materials that are revisioned and repurposed to create sustainable art.