An upcoming display will raise awareness for a disorder that can’t be seen.
After her oldest daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia and they found limited resources in the Jacksonville area, Donna Gargett decided she needed to become an advocate for her daughter. She too had struggled with dyslexia in school and still does today.
Gargett owns A & B Tutoring Solutions in Jacksonville and has recently become a co-leader at Decoding Dyslexia NC, a grassroots movement to raise awareness of dyslexia.
Dyslexia, a neurological disorder, is caused by different wiring of the brain and causes difficulty decoding and the ability to accurately and fluently recognize words, according to the International Dyslexia Association.
October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month, and Gargett has set up a series of events in October to raise awareness and understanding for the disorder.
The program “Learning Differences” will be presented at Jacksonville Public Library on Oct. 23 at 2 p.m., and an art show at the Jacksonville Arts Council will open Oct. 9 and continue through Oct. 31. Due to expected rain, the art show reception has been postponed to 2:30 to 4 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Art Council. The art show will still be available for viewing Oct. 9.
“I wanted to kick off dyslexia month with something visual because dyslexia is something you can’t see,” Gargett said. “I asked different artists to participate to help me depict what dyslexia really is.”
Artists used different mediums like photography, computer illustration, paint and more to depict what it feels like to have dyslexia. One artist even literally set dyslexia on fire.
Peter Rulon, a photographer and Swansboro firefighter, used materials to set the letters of dyslexia on fire while he photographed them and took a video of the process.
“I’ve done photography for other organizations and it was a fun project,” Rulon said. “I mean, a little creativity, a little out-of-the-box thinking is always fun.”
Dalice Castro, of Jacksonville, got involved after her 8-year-old son was diagnosed with dyslexia this summer. She has two pieces being shown.
“I don’t think people know enough about dyslexia,” she said. “There are old ideas out there about what dyslexia is and I think if they knew what dyslexia is, they would want to help the kids that have it. The art show is a great way to help people understand the details of that processing style.”
Dyslexia isn’t just the rearranging of letters and numbers in a person’s head. It affects a person’s everyday life, Gargett said. Gargett said she hopes that the art show will be a learning experience for parents and the community.
“I’m hoping they learn through the art show what dyslexia is and the different areas that it affects,” she said. “I hope they’re able to feel some of feelings that dyslexia brings and also see some of the strengths dyslexia brings through the art show.”
Gargett is also in the process of creating a nonprofit organization that focuses on dyslexia.
“I feel like with the art show, I was able to give people a blank canvas,” she said, recalling that as a child, she colored paint-by-number prints. “I’m an artist myself. I was never given a blank canvas. My goal is to reach people and I’ve been able to do so, but I want to do more.”
The organization is still in its early stages, but Gargett said she plans to call it Blank Canvas-Awareness Art. She hopes that when people attend the art show, they’ll learn more and make a donation.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with the support I got from this art show,” she said. “It is a challenge to describe what dyslexia is because there are just so many aspects of it and my goal is to educate people for a solution and there is a solution and I started to be able to provide that to our children in the community.”
Castro said she hopes the community will leave the art show more informed.
“(I hope they’ll learn) that there incredible gifts that come from that style of thinking that really benefit the world,” she said.
The art show will be interactive, and Gargett plans to have an area for children to make their own art so parents who are concerned their child may have dyslexia or struggles with reading, can ask questions.
“We should be talking about dyslexia,” Gargett said. “(This is) a place for people to gather and a place to get some conversation started and to come to a solution.”
For more information about dyslexia or solutions to it, visit DyslexiaIDA.org or email Donna Gargett at ABTutoring2016@yahoo.com.