Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Children With Autism Need Peace Too!

As many of my blog subscribers are also connected with me on Facebook, many of you know that I am always showcasing the artwork created by the students who ride The Peacebus. I always receive many wonderful comments about these talented youths.

Comments have come in from many countries around our world. And not only comments, but one or two fb friends have actually asked me to help them organize art programs for the children that they teach! I’ve sent out a few packages to these teachers and youth workers over the last year, filled with the variety of exercise sheets I have created over the last several years.

I’ve always found this type of positive response to the work that I am doing to be very flattering, but just recently, one person took it to the next level. I received a letter from Margaret Ann Franklin a few weeks ago. Margaret told me that she has become a huge fan of my students’ work and she wanted to know if I could ask them to become involved in a project that she is working on. I became intrigued!

Margaret explained that she is involved with several campaigns designed to raise awareness about Autism and how it affects children. Since she has always loved carousels – because they represent the fun and freedom that all children should be able to enjoy – she has started a collection of children’s drawings inspired by these thoughts. I told her that I thought my students would be very happy to create some artwork for her… and I was right!!! The students all thought that this would be a really cool thing to do!

Before I began this project I spoke with all of the parents – as they are usually waiting at each of the stops to ensure that their children get on and off the bus safely – to see if they would mind if I went ahead with this project. They all agreed that this would be a fun learning experience for their children. Then, I created an exercise sheet for the students to colour in.

Over the next week fourteen art creations were handed in. Here they are… in no particular order…

There were two highlights for me, during this time and they both had to do with the fact that two students who had never created art for my bus, had! Both Thomas and Sarah have been enjoying the artworks created by their friends but neither one had participated in any of my previous competitions. This fact never bothered me. I realize that sometimes children feel nervous about sharing something so personal – as art is – with others. The fact that these two felt comfortable enough to participate for their very first time brought a huge smile to my face. I have just witnessed a little inner personal growth with positive results!!!

Margaret is on cloud nine, lately!!! She has told me over and again how thankful she is for this support, how delighted she is with the students’ artworks and how happy this has made her feel. She will be showcasing these artworks in many different formats, over the next while, with other families who are dealing with this disease, to bring a ray of light into their lives.

I would like to send out a huge THANK YOU to Thomas, Emilie, Bianca, Maxime, Mehdi, Adrian, Clara, Nathan, Isha, Maddie, Sarah, Zyren, Lydia and Purnima, my Peacebus artists extrodinaire!!!!!

Later this afternoon, I will be announcing that all the participants will be receiving this very special poster that I just had printed. Emilie, in Grade 1, is the creator of this artwork. I had such a hard time deciding which artwork I should use for the prize so my wife helped me make this decision. Thanks Jo’ I think you made a fabulous choice!

I can’t wait to see the smiles on my students’ faces when I hand out their prizes!

I can’t wait until tonight when I go to bed to dream of all the other faces that will soon be filled with joy because of the generous spirit of my students!!!


A Special PS

So… I’m at the library right now, getting ready to upload this story. I needed to get a few facts in order so I logged onto my Facebook page first. I think that it’s great that I’ve only showcased four artworks on fb, so far, and already I’m receiving wonderful comments. This is a comment from someone who I haven’t even met yet…

You don't know me but a mutual friend, Scott Weston, passed me a link to the poster of a carousel horse captioned "Children with Autism Need Peace Too". As the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I wanted to tell you how much it means to me that there are people out there fostering acceptance of differences. My child has very high functionality but once kids get to know her and start detecting her differences they tend to shy away from her. She feels this very keenly and, although she tries, she doesn't understand why people seem to be uncomfortable around her. I tell her that it is because she is so special, it takes a special person to be her friend.Although you don't know me, I wanted you to know how much it means to us that you and people like you are encouraging kids to see the brilliance in their differences rather than using these differences to ostracize each other.Thank-youLexie Bierman

Ummmm…. Excuse me Lexie, but it is my turn to thank you!!!! :)

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