Joe Sprung, Chairman & Founder of Bear Givers, Dr. Barbara Firestone,
The Help Group President & CEO

On May 18th, The Help Group once again presented Festival of Arts: A Celebration of Young Artists sponsored by Bear Givers – a New York based non-profit organization – for the 10th consecutive year.

Bear Givers is truly a special organization that have made it their mission to bring happiness to the lives of children and adults in need through various programs. In particular, The Bear Givers EmpowerArt program gives kids with special needs the invaluable opportunity to gain tremendous pride in their creativity through showcasing their art.

“At The Help Group, the arts are absolutely fundamental to our students’ journey to expression and self-discovery. Bear Givers, and their EmpowerArt program, have created a transformative experience for our students. When these children are able to see their artwork displayed in a studio setting, nothing can replace the joy and sense of achievement that they have in that moment,” said Dr. Barbara Firestone, President and CEO of The Help Group.

The annual art show featured three distinct exhibitions by Help Group students: Through Our Eyes, a collection of over 150 paintings, The Art of STEM, a collection of award-winning robotics, and a brand new installation, POP Art, a collection of paintings inspired by popular culture.

The Festival took place at the Santa Monica Art Studios, located in a historic hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. Year after year, this unique space provides a warm and open setting for Help Group students, their friends and families to enjoy the artwork.

“Students have the opportunity to explore the arts and sciences in a deep way and this contributes to their creativity and success in both,” said Ellis Crasnow, Director of STEM³ Academy and STEM Education at The Help Group.

As is tradition, Dr. Barbara Firestone acknowledged the young artists from The Help Group’s Village Glen, Bridgeport, Bridgeport Vocational Education, and STEM3 Academy schools; acknowledged Bear Givers and its Chairman & Founder Joe Sprung, who was in attendance, along with Diane Lempert, President of Bear Givers, for their enduring commitment to the children.

To commemorate the 10th Annual Festival of Arts Sponsored By Bear Givers, Dr. Firestone presented Joe Sprung with a festive cake and spoke a few words about Joe’s spirit of philanthropy and Bear Givers’ dedication to bringing happiness to the lives of all children.

Joe Sprung expressed, “The annual Festival of Arts took place and once again the young artists exceeded all expectations, displaying a beautiful and colorful exhibition of their original work. We have watched the students grow and we have seen their artistic ability grow as well. We are grateful to Dr. Barbara Firestone and the staff of The Help Group who embrace our programs with such enthusiasm and never lose sight of our mission. They have been a pleasure to work with over the past years and completely understand the true objective of our EmpowerArt Program, participating to the fullest extent and taking it to a higher level every year. We look forward to many more special events together!”

Our thanks to Bear Givers, Joe Sprung, Diane Lempert, our teachers, faculty, staff, and a mighty congratulations to all the young artists for another spectacular exhibition!



#2 (L-R) Joe Sprung, Dr. Barbara Firestone, Jenifer Slade, Teacher at The Help Group’s Village Glen School, Tia Bruno, Teacher at The Help Group’s Bridgeport School, Crystal Roethlisberger, Help Group Teacher, Pam Clark, Director of Autism Schools at The Help Group

#3 (L-R) Joe Sprung, Dr. Ellis Crasnow, Director of STEM3 Academy, Dr. Barbara Firestone, STEM teacher Megumi Guillaume

#5) (L-R) Joe Sprung and Dr. Barbara Firestone with a Help Group family

#6) (L-R) Joe Sprung, Dr. Barbara Firestone, Jenifer Slade, Teacher at The Help Group’s Village Glen School, Crystal Roethlisberger, Help Group Teacher, Pam Clark, Director of Autism Schools at The Help Group, Megan Davis, Principal of The Help Group’s Village Glen School, joined by Help Group families.

# 7) (L-R) Dr. Mary Bauman and a Help Group Student