Clients from Clayworks at Disability Supports in McPherson and high school seniors with the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson worked together Monday to create art, and memories, they will keep forever.

Clients at Clayworks were given the opportunity teach Space 501 Camp students all about clay art and show them what they are able to accomplish.

Tracey Tomme, chief operating officer of the Cosmosphere and Teresa Preston, Clayworks program manager, say they have planned for students and clients to work together.

“These clients at Clayworks have built these awesome pieces of art, but they have never taught before. This was a new experience for them as well as our campers. Our campers have never done anything with clay before. It breaks down some of those stereotypes... People may think engineers aren’t friendly and maybe aren’t the most fun to be around. And that some people don’t see the really cool skill sets and talents that these folks at Clayworks have, it’s just amazing,” Tomme said.

Preston said it is important to give students who may have never been exposed to developmentally disabled adults the chance to learn from them.

“Our clients are so proud of what they do. They were excited to share this and be the artist and the teacher. That put them on a platform of a really high level of self esteem,” Preston said.

Clients at Clayworks showed the campers how to make art out of clay with stencils of space designs.

“Our clients are familiar with the idea of stamping clay in the wet phase and they know how to make it all work. We had all the patterns laid out for the campers to choose from and I told them if they felt comfortable enough, they could make their own designs. The campers really used their imaginations. My clients came up to me and said, ‘Come see what my camper made.’ They wanted to show us what they had done, it was so neat,” Preston said.

Preston said she was pleased with how well the clients and the campers worked together.

“They were treating each other as people and that was the glory of the whole idea we had,” Preston said.

Tomme said the Cosmosphere is aiming toward incorporating more experiences like these in the future.

“This is another example of making our camps more inclusive,” Tomme said.

The seniors at this week-long space camp will travel to California and visit the California Science Center, Griffith Observatory, the space shuttle Endeavor, Edwards Air Force base and the Jet Propulson Laboratory at Armstrong Flight Research Center.

Preston also said she is looking forward to Cosmosphere’s campers returning.

“I loved it today. Seeing the clients’ expressions and openness to the whole thing was joyful to us. It not only benefits our clients, but the campers too.” Preston said.

Clients and he campers will get together once more on Friday evening for a fun night of pizza and bowling at The Alley, at 1221 E. 23rd Ave., in Hutchinson.

“The clients will get to watch the campers graduate as a last hooray,” Preston said.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.