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Art event supports Center for Hearing and Speech

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The streets surrounding Sam Houston Park had a different look to them this morning, and it will all be gone later today.

It's all for this weekend's annual Via Colori street painting festival supporting the Center for Hearing and Speech.

Earlier this week, I visited with those who will benefit from the proceeds.

Three-year-old Alex Narcisse is practicing his moves for a Christmas pageant, but when he first came to the Center for Hearing and Speech, his parents did not know if this day would ever come.

"When he started here at 18 months, he said maybe two words, like 'ah' and 'uh-oh,'" his mother, Holly Narcisse said.

Today, Alex is thriving -- something his mother says would not be possible without the help he's received here.

"Now he's starting his third year and he's above average for his language for his age," she said.

The center houses a school, a speech therapy clinic and an audiology clinic that cares for 3,000 children per year, regardless of a family's ability to pay.

Anat Ronen is one of 200 artists whose chalk murals at the two-day Via Colori street painting festival will help ensure that every child has access to the center.

"You get to do it with people because it's like performance art," Ronen said.

Her square is inspired by the theme "Things I like to hear."

"It was important to design something that transferred the message for the hearing and speech and for helping the kids connect," she said.

Admission to Via Colori is free, but the center hopes to raise $375,000 through corporate sponsors and food sales -- $75,000 more than last year because Medicaid cuts have reduced funding to the center by 7 percent in the last two years.

"We need to have extra funding so that we never turn a child away," Executive Director Renee Davis said. "That's where the fundraising comes in to bridge that gap."

Were you at Via Colori this weekend? Send us your photos to be featured online! Email them to News@abc13.com or upload them at iWitness.abc13.com.

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