The fifth annual Art of Disability Festival took place at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth on Thursday.
The event was hosted by Independent Living Nova Scotia and featured more than 40 talented artists, vendors and performers.
Hannah Hicks of Bedford was one of the artists in attendance. The talented teen was there to sell her unique, one-of-a-kind paintings. She also choreographed and performed an original dance.
The 17-year-old said her love of art helps her in many aspects of her life.
“It helps me to blossom into an adult. It helps me to make my brain stronger,” said Hicks. “It helps me to think a lot. And it helps me to create my own memories.”
Hicks says she began taking dance classes at a young age. While she enjoys a variety of dancing styles, her favourite is hip-hop.
“It has lots of attitude,” said Hicks.
The festival is designed to break down barriers and allow members of the disabled community to showcase their talents.
“The goal of this festival is to bring societal awareness to the community that people with disabilities can be integrated into society and we’re just like them, maybe just have a different way to get around or a different way to communicate,” said Independent Living Nova Scotia festival coordinator Nicole McDonald.
McDonald has been organizing the festival for two years. She said while it takes weeks of intense planning, the end result is worth it.
“There was one guy — he came to me and he was crying because he was so happy…to have this opportunity to show his ability,” said McDonald.
The festival included paintings, drawings, baked goods, knitted goods and balloon art. It also included a variety of performers including rappers, dancers and fiddlers.