On May 20, for the 9th consecutive year, The Help Group proudly presented Festival of Arts: A Celebration of Young Artists sponsored by Bear Givers – a New York based non-profit organization. The annual show featured two exhibitions by Help Group students: Through Our Eyes, a collection of over 170 original paintings, and The Art of Stem, a collection that displayed award-winning robotics.

Bear Givers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing happiness to the lives of children and adults in need through a variety of programs.  According to Dr. Barbara Firestone, President and CEO of The Help Group, “The Bear Givers Empowered Art Program enables children with special needs to experience the joy and pride of creating art. At The Help Group, we believe that the arts are fundamental to our students’ pathway to self-expression and self-discovery.”

The festival was held at Santa Monica Art Studios, located in a historic hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. The space provides a unique and open setting for students, their families, and friends to enjoy the artwork.

“The exhibition is a perfect occasion for our students to showcase their talent and imagination, and to shine brightly,” said Pamela Clark, Director of Autism Schools at The Help Group.

“The Festival of Arts is always a great opportunity for our STEM students to explore the intersection of art and science. What they do not only amazes, but enchants,” said Dr. Ellis Crasnow, Director of STEM3 Academy and STEM Education at The Help Group.

The festivities included a special program to honor the young artists from The Help Group’s Village Glen, Bridgeport, and STEM3 Academy schools.  Brad Shahine, Director of Public Affairs at The Help Group, acknowledged Joseph Sprung, Chairman and Founder of Bear Givers, and Diane Lempert, President of Bear Givers, and thanked them for their longstanding commitment to the children of The Help Group.

On behalf of The Help Group, Brad thanked all of the faculty who mentor and work with students throughout the year, including Dr. Ellis Crasnow, Crystal Roethlisberger, Jennifer Slade, Tia Bruno, and Frank Morales.

The Help Group Choir, led by Charlotte Bashner and accompanied by Tommy Reeves, shared spirited renditions of “Can’t Stop The Feeling” and “Try Everything.” The choir’s performance was met with tremendous applause by the audience. It was a magical afternoon celebrating the creative spirit of the children of The Help Group.

Our thanks to Bear Givers and congratulations to all the young artists for yet another wonderful exhibition!


(L-R) Dr. Ellis Crasnow, Tia Bruno, Pamela Clark, Dr. Barbara Firestone, Jennifer Slade, Brad Shahine

(L-R) Pamela Clark, Mary Bauman, Director of Clinical Services at The Help Group

(L-R) Help Group Choir, Led by Music Teacher Charlotte Bashner, accompanied by Tommy Reeves

(L-R) Dr. Barbara Firestone, Dr. Ellis Crasnow

(L-R) Dr. Ellis Crasnow, Dr. Susan Berman, COO of The Help Group, Pamela Clark