Revealed: The Myth of Disability

If you were given an opportunity to believe and achieve, would you take it? Isa Shimizu, one of Easter Seals Hawaii’s youth service participants, along with a few other past Easter Seals Hawaii participants, including Cassilly Woll and Katie O’Brien, were chosen to be 3 of 20 artists who have a disability to be featured in the Revealed: The Myth of Disability exhibit at the Gallery ‘Iolani at Windward Community College. This exhibit will be active from September 13 – October 9, Monday-Friday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

Isa participating in the Honolulu Festival Parade

Isa participating in the Honolulu Festival Parade

To have earned such an honor requires incredible talent and hard work—both of which Isa portray. Over his years of artistic achievement, Isa has proven that opportunity and success is not contingent upon one’s circumstance, but rather one’s desire, drive, and passion.

At the age of 4, Isa was diagnosed with autism. Unable to have a conversation from infancy, it was difficult for him to communicate or socialize with others, which inevitably affected relationship formation. Isa instead poured himself into drawing, a skill he has and continues to cultivate. Capturing a unique and charming atmosphere, Isa’s art has positively impacted multiple countries, people, and organizations alike throughout the world. One such instance is his FUDO (Fire God) drawing, which has been displayed on FOKAI branded shirts (called FOKAI ISA TEEs), which are now sold throughout Guam, Saipan, and Hawaii. Isa also held three successful art exhibitions. Despite the rarity of an exhibit by an artist with autism in Japan, his second exhibition in Yotsuya, Japan, “Instead of Words ことばのかわりに,drew an impressive 300 visitors with articles featured in the newspaper and two magazines.

Isa working on KOINOBORIs for children in homeless shelters

Isa working on KOINOBORIs for children in homeless shelters

After moving to Hawaii in search of greater opportunities and broader horizons, Isa joined the Easter Seals Hawaii family as a participant in the Youth Enrichment Services program from 2012-2013. This program, one of many offered by Easter Seals, serves youth ages 6 to 22 with developmental disabilities and other special needs. Isa was able to engage in social-recreational opportunities in a safe and nurturing environment, designed to support and encourage his self-esteem, independence, and social growth. Isa developed self-help skills through challenging and age-appropriate activities such as art, music, sports, games, and computers. He was a devoted participant in many of the supervised activities offered through the program including camping, the boy’s group, and the ADVENTURE club. He also loved to engage in art and cooking.

Isa’s International Café coasters drawings

Isa’s International Café coasters drawings

Today, Isa remains a cherished part of the Easter Seals family. He continues to spread his love of art and commitment to the community. From drawing designs on coasters for the International Café to drawing KOINOBORIs for children in homeless shelters, Isa delights in sharing with others.

We’re thrilled to see those we have served truly embody our mission and purpose: empowering people with disabilities or special needs to achieve their goals and live independent, fulfilling lives. We highly encourage everyone to attend the Revealed: The Myth of Disability exhibit at the Gallery ‘Iolani at Windward Community College to be held September 13 – October 9, Monday-Friday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. More information can be found at the gallery website: www.gallery.windward.hawaii.edu.

Isa’s KOINOBORIs for children in homeless shelter

Isa’s KOINOBORIs for children in homeless shelter

If you or a loved one would like more information about Easter Seals Hawaii services, volunteering, or donating opportunities, please visit our website at www.easterseals.com/hawaii/, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instragram @eastersealshi. Your contributions to Easter Seals Hawaii could change the life of another forever!