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'Yes You Can' affirms inclusion, creativity

Business opens its doors downtown, teaching courses to developmentally disabled

For more than two years Newberg resident Kristina Malmberg has been leading art classes for developmentally disabled individuals. Now she’s expanding her business into a studio space downtown and increasing the services it provides.

Dubbed Yes You Can Creations, the business specializes in providing artistic and other creative outlets for people of any functioning level, and its inspiration came from a phenomenon Malmberg perceived in her former occupation.

Malmberg worked as a group home manager, interacting with a lot with developmentally disabled people. Each year there would be meetings that would ask the residents what kinds of activities they wanted to do more. And each year, Malmberg would hear the same sentiment repeated again and again: art class, art class, art class.GARY ALLEN - Kristina Malmberg leads art classes and other life skills courses for people of all functioning levels, but especially for those with developmental disabilities, with her business, ‘Yes You Can Creations.'

“I saw it from all functioning levels, from someone who’s incredibly high functioning to low functioning, all wanted to create and they’re all creative,” Malmberg said.

However, when she would look around for art classes, and particularly ones that catered to folks with developmental disabilities, they were either nonexistent or the few that were offered were full. So she started offering those types of activities herself, and because the clients she was working with often are more comfortable in their own homes than traveling to an unfamiliar space, she would go out to make house calls, bringing all the materials with her.

Now she’s expanding her business in several ways, as it’s been a successful venture over the past couple years. Malmberg has located a studio downtown, she has hired another teacher to bring the staff up to two, and she is providing a wider array of classes.

Right now there are courses offered one-on-one or in group workshops, in collage, painting, drawing, clay work, crafts, scrap booking, bead work, as well as other skills like reading and math, foreign languages, sign language, cooking and more.

With her new space downtown, Malmberg is also inviting non-developmentally disabled, or typically functioning, folks into the space to have a mix of all kinds of people being creative.

“That’s why we opened a studio, so we could have a place where integration happens for everybody,” she said. “We’re hoping that people in the community who walk by will want to come in and take a class.”

To round out the creative focus, the studio space is featuring an artist every month, and will open its doors during First Friday events. Malmberg said she hopes to get into the practice of featuring artists who have taken courses through the business as well.

“I think creativity gives people a voice and I really want to encourage that from everybody,” Malmberg said. “You have things to say, you have things to create, let’s do it.”

Yes You Can Creations is located at 108 S. College St. For more information, visit https://yesyoucancreations. wordpress.com.