Grant Update – Arts on the Spectrum
“Perhaps it is that this program is more about “arts immersion” than didactic teaching of the arts, which wouldn’t work well for these kids. Whatever it is, this program works, and I’d love to see it continued and expanded.”
Arts on the Spectrum supports non-verbal communication and creative self-exploration. It excites the hearts and minds of the teens and adults on the Autism Spectrum who participate.
The Community Foundation awarded a grant to Austism Ontario, Kingston Chapter in the fall of 2014 to launch the pilot project. The initial arts pilot consisted of seven artists who offered hands-on communication through visual arts, music, movement, and poetry to twenty-one participants. This was carried out during a series of 52 1/hr. sessions, over three months. These artists opened the studio space to an important kind of solidarity, bringing together participants of different ages and skill sets.
Parents of children in this program have offered these testimonials:
“What a breath of fresh air this Visual, Performance and Literary Arts Education initiative created by Cavelle has been for my son, and many other children in our community. Real artists seem to have a very intuitive way of interacting with children with different types of brains.
The children were staying in the group and excited to return. I witnessed children with autism of different ages and levels of functioning working together as the artists engaged their senses with sound and light and movement – stimuli these children are drawn to naturally anyhow because of the way their brains are differently wired. I witnessed children all drumming together in rhythm, harnessing an ancient way humans would have traditionally connected socially with each other.
Perhaps it is that this program is more about “arts immersion” than didactic teaching of the arts, which wouldn’t work well for these kids. Whatever it is, this program works, and I’d love to see it continued and expanded.” – Dr. Susan Boehnke Neuroscientist, Queen’s University
“I was asked how this program differed from others my son was involved in previously for Special Needs – the Arts on the Spectrum participants were not expected to conform to a rigid program. The result was profound – a sense of belonging, confidence to try something new & the ability to be themselves.
Because this program operated without any preconceived expectations everyone involved was able to achieve something truly amazing. As a parent, it was remarkable to watch this transformation unfold in only 6 weekends. If more programs operated this way, just imagine what could be achieved “ – Mary Anne, parent.
Sincere thanks go to the McArthur Connidis Arts Fund and the Community Foundation of Kingston & Area for supporting this vision for a unique and customized partnership, culminating on International Autism Day with a public performance and arts exhibition at Memorial Hall.
Cavelle Macdonell is a local artist educator and arts advocate who was instrumental in creating this program.
Arts on the Spectrum Facebook page: http://bit.ly/2tRcDSo