Grandview-based balloon artist Aimee Pryor, aka Miss Aimee the Balloon Lady, brought smiles, fun and new skills to a group of area residents at Community Opportunities Inc. this week.
As part of Balloons Around the World Day, balloon artists across the globe set out to brighten someone’s day in any way they chose. The annual event, held the first Wednesday in October, marks a day artists can decide how to give back to the community by helping a nonprofit organization, making balloon art for passersby on the street or visiting a playground, but there’s really no wrong way to take part, Pryor said.
Pryor said she first learned how to make balloon art while on a high school mission trip in inner-city Houston.
“There was an older girl there that taught us how to do balloons that summer,” she said. “There neighborhood we were in was mainly all Spanish-speaking — I didn’t know any Spanish at all — so we could communicate with the balloons. The balloons were kind of an ice breaker.
“We earned those kids’ trust through the balloons, and we used those to kind of tell Bible stories.”
Since then, Pryor has learned how to make much more than balloon hearts and crosses. Her repertoire extends to monkeys, cars, palm trees and more.
Pryor said she has been working as a balloon artist and party clown for about six years, since her middle child was born. Wednesday’s workshop was her first time to take part in Balloons Around the World Day.
“The point is to volunteer at least an hour of your time to a good cause in the community,” she said.
Pryor, who worked with special needs children before switching careers, said that deciding to donate her time to COI was an easy choice. Clients who attend workshops at COI have varying levels of disabilities and work individually or in groups to further their skills.
The nonprofit agency provides teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities “quality of life” opportunities to help them become more independent.
Pam Masters, COI director of outreach and development, said that hosting a class on balloon-animal making was perfect for COI clients.
“We’re always trying to find skills they can do for a job,” Masters said. “And maybe actually become people like Aimee that make balloon art for their job.”
Clients who took part in Wednesday’s balloon-making class made their own balloon dogs and worked on social skills while learning the names for certain balloon sizes and shapes.
Pryor also shared facts about balloon history, including the fact that balloons disintegrate as quickly as an oak leaf because they are made from rubber tree latex.
For information about Pryor, visit www.portapartiesentertainment.com. Visit communityopportunitiesinc.org for more information on COI.