Manuel Leana says learning to read and write has been difficult, but he says painting the Staten Island Ferry was a piece of cake.


"It reminded me of New York City. I always go there so I wanted to paint it," said Leana.


Leana is one of several 3rd Graders from P.S. 45 in West Brighton to have their artwork displayed at Pratt Institute's Art Gallery in Chelsea.  Many have special needs.


"They are so proud of themselves. They worked so hard on it. The painting not only taught them about their community but it taught them how to persevere and work toward their goal," said a special education teacher.


Students from 21 public schools accross the city are showcasing their work. The annual exhibit is organized by Marquis Studios. The non-profit has provided art-education programs in city schools for nearly 40 years.


"We think its so important to showcase student work in a real art gallery it gives them a sense of pride," said Marquis Studios' Executive Director.


Marquis Studios also works with Jean Kennedy Smith, sister of former president John F. Kennedy and former American Idol Star Clay Aiken. Both founded non-profit organizations that help children with special needs.


"I believe strongly in arts programs for children all children. Sometimes through some disabilities they aren't included and our job is to get them included," said Smith.


"When you include a kid along side a kid without disabilities not only do they feel apart of the community but they learn social behaviors you cannot get in a classroom," said Aiken.


The students artwork is also featured in this calendar. Organizers say 3,000 copies are being distributed to schools citywide. You can also pick up one here at the gallery.


The exhibit runs through Saturday but will be closed on Thanksgiving.