What is the 40 Days Around the World Project?
The 40 Days Around the World project is an international digital festival coordinated by VSA Tennessee with assistance from Middle Tennessee State University in which 60 countries and 37 states have engaged in 40 unique artistic exchanges involving people with disabilities.
The project began as a way to bring Stateside and International VSA Affiliates together to share arts and education projects to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the VSA program founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, sister to former President John F. Kennedy, and to demonstrate the power of the arts to bring together people of all abilities and backgrounds.
What is in the Festival?
Within the festival, there is a wealth of materials ranging from educational lesson plans, to audio/video of professional artists with disabilities, to professional development materials for educators and artists, to conversations by people with disabilities through the arts, to festivals, to competitions and art exhibitions, and the list goes on. The participants include children, professional artists of all disciplines, educators, and veterans.
Why is the Festival Important?
The projects within the festival support the mission of VSA Tennessee, which is to use the arts to help individuals with disabilities reach cognitive, social, emotional, professional and physical goals. The process of learning an art technique is always given importance, but the arts are also used as a tool to provide an inclusive society in which individuals with disabilities are a participant and contributor.
In addition, celebrating 40 years of work by VSA Affiliates around the world and the impact of Jean Kennedy Smith on society is a most worthy focus of this festival.
However, this festival’s strongest impact can be seen in its ability to cross lines of politics, country borders, ethnicities, and religious creeds. It brings together individuals of all backgrounds through the work of people with disabilities.
For Tennessee, this project is particularly significant because Tennessee, and its artists and individuals with disabilities, are the leaders to the world. They are inspiring some countries to take a closer look at their policies of inclusion and providing programming guidance to others. Through this festival, Tennessee leads the discussion of inclusion.
Although it continues to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the VSA program, its focus has broadened to a celebration that goes beyond the boundaries of an anniversary. However, it still pays tribute to the inspiration of the founder of VSA, Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith.
We hope that you will be inspired and educated by the programs contained in this digital festival. Our most sincere appreciation to all who participated. This entire project is truly a tribute to the power of the Human Spirit.