Health & Fitness

These students found rhythm, art and joy through poetry

Reading poems in English and Spanish from Shel Siliverstein, Francisco Xavier Alarcón and E.E. Cummings, poet Donnie Welch and bilingual speech therapist Raquel Quiñones taught students at the Brucie Ball Education Center a thing or two about poetry.

Welch and Quiñones are colleagues at the Rebecca School, a therapeutic day-school in Manhattan. They came to South Florida as part of the O, Miami Poetry Festival.

Their workshops, focused on rhythm, movement and sensory play, are designed to make poetry more accessible to students with intellectual and ambulatory disabilities such as those at Brucie Ball in southwest Miami-Dade.

The three days of workshops culminated in collaborative poster poems representing the students’ connection to Miami and their communities.

On the first day, the students stuck their hands in blue paint and the poets painted an ocean out of their handprints.

For the second workshop, the students added buildings to represent the Miami skyline, using wooden ice cream sticks, tissue paper and pipe cleaners.

And on the final day, the poets added text to the student creations, choosing words that represented the students’ passions, from Dwayne Wade and dancing to sunshine and shopping.

The finished poems were read aloud and the posters were left with the classes.

“O, Miami is grateful that Brucie Ball administration trusted us and allowed us the privilege of entering their classrooms. Donnie and Raquel simplified poetry down to its fundamental: connecting with people,” said Melody Santiago Cummings, managing director of O, Miami.

For more on Donnie Welch and his work visit and to learn about upcoming O, Miami events through the month of April visit