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How One Woman Is Using Art to Give a Voice to Those With Disabilities


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Amy Genzlinger craft events offer creative expression to all.

In 2015, Amy Genzlinger, of Fort Myers, Florida, had successful surgery to repair a heart disease — and lost her voice within the process. The procedure caused vocal fold paralysis, meaning Amy couldn’t talk above a whisper. Doctors couldn’t tell her when — or if — her voice would return. “I felt sort of a huge piece of myself was gone,” she says.
To debar feelings of loneliness and isolation, Amy began making collages out of inspiring phrases and pictures cut from magazines and pictures. “They became my thanks to process what I used to be browsing,” she says. “The loss, frustration, and anger, but also my hope that somehow this was going to work out.
” After several months, Amy invited her husband, Todd; her children, Maddy and Calvin; and a couple of friends to craft together with her. “It was how we might be together albeit I could not join the conversation,” she says.
The next year, a specialist did vocal fold implant surgery on Amy, and her voice returned. Inspired to share the healing power of creativity with others, Amy founded Art From the guts, an in-home crafting party business. a number of her favorite clients are people that have difficulty communicating, like those with Alzheimer’s disease or autism. She has seen firsthand how collaging has helped her daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, express herself.
Armed with canvases, glue, and bins of photos and inspirational quotes, Amy travels to non-public homes across the country and helps party participants create personalized works of art. She charges $30 per adult for classes, which have ranged from 10 women at a home party to up to 60 participants at large-scale events like conferences.

Last year, Amy threw about 50 parties, and she hopes to work with schools, church youth groups, and hospitals this year. Eventually, she’d like to partner with a nonprofit to offer classes for a lower price. But regardless of the venue, her goal stays the same: to help others find their voices just as she found hers.

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