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Posted by on in News

We are not just Board Members; we are Mountain Movers

I will never forget the moment I first heard about CAA.  Jeremy, a participant in my FITBuddies group at FIT in Los Altos, came running in one afternoon shouting, “Jen, I am going to college!!”  I returned his excitement and then asked him where. He responded, “Far, far away.”  Needless to say, I was extremely happy to learn that “far, far away” meana1sx2_Thumbnail1_jenp.jpgt San Jose.  Shortly thereafter, Jeremy’s dad. Bill, introduced me to DeAnna Pursai, and the relationship quickly developed. A few months later, I was officially a Mountain Mover.

In the early days of CAA, DeAnna decided that she did not want to call us “Board Members” and that “Mountain Movers” more accurately described the goal: to move mountains for adults with disabilities.  My first reaction was that it was a fun, cute way to describe the Board and those who were involved in CAA.  Every time something exciting happened—a new grant awarded, new students, new community partnerships and events—an e-mail is sent with a title such as, “the mountain just moved” or “that mountain just creaked.”  After spending a little time at CAA, one quickly realizes that Mountain Movers is much more than a creative way of referring to CAA’s board.

Whether you are a board member, professor, staff, student, parent, volunteer or donor, you are a Mountain Mover.  This term does not identify one particular role; it identifies an entire community.  The Board alone can’t move the mountain; neither can ab2ap3_thumbnail_caaboard2015.jpg student nor professor  nor staff member nor volunteer. It takes an entire Mountain Moving community and that is exactly what DeAnna and Pamela have built.

The term Mountain Mover has also created an equitable relationship among all who are involved with CAA.  As CAA’s Board Chair, my role is not more important than that of a staff member or a volunteer because we are all on this mountain together with a firm understanding that it only moves when we work together.

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In 2009 a friend suggested I might look into College of Adaptive Arts, she thought it would be an ideal environment for David.  My now 34 year old son David loves to dance and definitely loves an audience.  College of Adaptive Arts - listed as a conservatory of Arts for adults with differing abilities - a mouthful for sure, but it peeked my curiosity and decided to look further into it.

What I found was 2 very enthusiastic and dedicated ladies, acting on a dream and following their hearts.  DeAnna Pursai and Pamela Lindsay, the co-founders of College of Adaptive Arts; talk about enthusiasm, these ladies were loaded with contagious energy and ideas.  We signed up David to begin in the following (and second) semester of the school.

The small group of approximately 12 students in first semester had grown to about 20 students in the second semester, participated in weekly classes.  It didn't take long for them to begin performing out in the community - at Senior Centers, other programs, at Barnes & Nobles, Great America, at Christmas in the park (to this day, one of the student's all time favorite).  It seems every semester there are more students joining and more classes being added.

More than once I've been asked what is it about this program that keeps me there and how does it differ from other existing programs?  One thing for sure, this is a program where the participants do NOT "have to" be there, instead they "want to" be there.  I think about my son and how his self-confidence has increased (my husband says David "struts") since he joined CAA.   I look at all the other students and am so impressed at what they are capable of and CAN do. 

From an autistic student who normally is like a butterfly - in constant motion - yet, very able to stay in place and go through a whole performance routine with no issues.  To the student who during the first class sat with his back to the class covering his face, who now doesn't hesitate one bit to get on stage and put his whole self into a performance routine.

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CAA - How did it start?

CAA Blog Spot-Entry #1

by DeAnna Pursai and Pamela Lindsay

Welcome to our new website, courtesy of our wonderful team of CAA Mountain Mover leaders and complemented by the exquisite and wonderful expertise of our webmaster, Nancy Clothier.  Each week, we’ll provide a new perspective on our Blog from either myself or co-founder & Dean of Instruction, Pamela Lindsay, a wonderful board member, a CAA student, a Professor or staff member, or from a parent of a CAA student.  

So I guess we’ll begin at the beginning.  Here’s the start of the beautiful story of the College of Adaptive Arts.  We’ll just give you a bit of a snapshot from the early years.

We began the College of Adaptive Arts in July, 2009.  We know that larger forces at work conspired to bring us together – we have been like soul sisters since the day we met.  Our birthdays are just one day apart and we so very much complement each other’s skill sets: working in tandem in the philosophy that we divide & conquer, continually check-in and brainstorm, listen a lot, give continual support & laugh often!

We rented out a space at Capitol Dance in the Princeton Plaza of San Jose two days a week for $50/day.  It seemed like an inordinate amount of money at the time, but we had enrolled 12 students for that first musical theatre class, so at least we knew our bills would be covered.  The first day we opened our doors, no students showed up.  Not to worry – we deemed it a teacher work day.  By the end of that 3-week session, we had 12 students enrolled and we did a marvelous rendition of songs from Jesus Christ Superstar.

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