Spread the love

TO NEARLY 400 WALTON COUNTY STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS AND ABILITIES Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) — Northwest Florida’s champion of the arts for all abilities — made creating art its mission for nearly 400 local students last week. The week of April 8, artist/inventor Dwayne Szot — founder of Zot Artz — returned as an art partner with Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s ArtsReach residency program.

This time, Szot lead two full-day hands-on creative residencies for K-12 students with special needs at two Walton County schools located in Santa Rosa Beach schools: South Walton Academy and Walton County School District Special Olympics Field Day at Emerald Coast Middle School.

The South Walton Academy Adaptive Arts Day served around 175 K-12 students of all abilities. The Walton County School District Special Olympics Field Day served around 215 K-12 students with special needs in 15 schools from Walton County School District, plus Westinwood Ranch, a holistic learning program based in Freeport, Florida for individuals with Developmental Differences.

In 2024, MKAF presented around 140 ArtsReach programs — a record 71 percent increase over the previous year. Since it was established in 1995, MKAF estimates its outreach has impacted more than 400,000 in the local Northwest Florida community.


“We’re thrilled to have Dwayne Szot back with his wonderful Zot Artz program,” said MKAF education director Melanie Moore. “He really is the Willy Wonka of the adaptive arts world. He has invented these fantastical creations that appeal to people of all abilities, but also help people create together. So, whether one of the students is in a wheelchair, or perhaps they lack fine motor skills, we’re providing an opportunity for them to create art in a collaborative and meaningful way.”

Arts for All Abilities initiative is unique in the area. MKAF is the only arts organization that has a specific program initiative to deliver arts to people of all abilities.

“I’m very proud of that and the fact that it has been part of the culture of our organization,” Moore says.

Proceeds from MKAF-produced events fund the MKAF’s community outreach mission to provide cultural outreach programs through ArtsReach serving K-12 students, adults and children with special needs, at-risk youth, and through MKAF’s Warrior Arts program serving active/veteran military.

For more information about becoming an MKAF member, sponsoring, volunteering to attending MKAF events, visit or call (850) 650-2226.

ABOUT MATTIE KELLY ARTS FOUNDATION Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF), a non-profit arts organization comprised of members, volunteers, and community partners building the foundation of arts and culture in the community. Since its inception in 1995, MKAF has inspired more than 400,000 children in more than 100 schools and partner agencies. Through its community education initiative ArtsReach, programming serves K-12 students, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, and the military population with visible and invisible injuries. As a presenting organization, MKAF has showcased its Concerts in the Village each season where the Southeast United States’ most vibrant performing artists and bands perform to more than 35,000 patrons annually. More than 100 artists convene in Destin each year for the Festival of the Arts, which is one the preeminent arts festivals along the Gulf coast. MKAF has partnered with multiple regional non-profits and school districts in the communities that it serves to ensure access to the arts for all.

MEDIA CONTACT: Zandra Wolfgram Director of Marketing Communications (850) 218-8805


| Mattie Kelly |
About The Author