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The Sky Is The Limit

Editor's Note: This article is based on an interview with Jason Derkach, who is Vice President of the NFB:AE's Central Okanagan Chapter. *Image: Jason Derkach and Denise Sanders hold Jason?s painting submitted to Art for Social Change. Jason?s painting features a black background contrasting against an image of a rocket, shooting into space. In braille, is the title, ?The Sky is the Limit.?

Jason was born in Calgary in 1970. in 1987, he was involved in a car crash, which left him with no memory, partially sighted and unable to speak for some time.

He had to relearn all the basics of life such as his family's identity, numbers and colours. His family decided Jason needed a new start so they moved to Kelowna in the summer of 1991.

Since that time, Jason has been able to adapt to his challenges and is able to live on his own. He enjoys five-pin bowling on a weekly basis and goes to the gym twice a week to weight-lift. He says, "It is important to keep in good shape." He participated on a dragon boat team until back injuries forced him to quit.

Jason has been a member of the Central Okanagan Chapter for four years and has been Vice President for two years.

Jason says, "Loneliness is a very painful experience. Painting helps to cope as time does not exist."

Even as a child, Jason was interested in art. He finds it more difficult to paint now, but he still enjoys it. He says that, in order to accommodate his vision loss, he takes his time. He stands back and scans his work from a distance.

Jason's paintings have included trains and various fish, such as trout and sharks. He paints from his mind, rather than copying a picture. He recalls even doing a painting from a dream of a rowboat and red fish.

During a brainstorming session, Denise Sanders, Chapter President, asked Jason if he would be interested in doing a painting to publicize the Chapter as apart of the Art for Social Change Project through Okanagan University College.

"Art for Social Change originated from a collaboration between Social Work and Fine Arts students to raise awareness of social justice issues, using art as a means of giving voice to students and marginalized individuals within our community," said Brendan Mundan, Arts for Social Change Coordinator. "Our long-term vision is to bring this idea across Canada as a way to be heard with a united message of social justice. Our voices will reflect any issue that we (students, marginalized populations and other community members) identify as neglected or ignored."

Joyce Mainland, Chapter Secretary/Treasurer, suggested we paint a spaceship, and Jason added the stars. Our theme is that, in the future, individuals experiencing vision loss will be able to be an astronaut or whatever career they wish through advanced technology. Another friend recommended the slogan "the sky is the limit?.

Jason says he "found this an exciting project and completed the painting in two weeks".

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"The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.

The path to it is made - not found." - Philip Adams