Tuesday, November 20, 2012

OUCARES 2012 Film Premier


Excitement mounts as 50 children with autism prepare to celebrate their accomplishments at the 2012 OUCARES Film Premier.  The program, which has been held at Oakland University for the past seven years, brings together many people to support the creative talents possessed by many individuals who are on the autism spectrum.
When the lights dimmed, the premier began immediately with a laugh out loud moment from the audience.  There were many such moments of humorous honesty as the campers, a handful of which have participated in the program since the beginning, flourished under the guidance of a professional film crew.
The camp, which took place back in August, is an Inclusion Camp run by actor/director Joey Travolta, the older brother of celebrity John Travolta.
 “Why do I do this?  It’s because of the kids,” said Travolta.
Inclusion Camps have been proven to bring out hidden potential in people on the autism spectrum that those close to them never could have imagined beforehand.
“I know this works.  It’s about creating opportunities,” said Travolta.
These kinds of opportunities are certainly needed.  Travolta said that there is a 90% unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities.  This includes individuals who are on the autism spectrum.
OUCARES and Travolta are working together to give individuals on the autism spectrum what they need to succeed not only in creating a short film, but skills that they can call upon the rest of their lives.
“I’m indebted to Oakland University for starting my career,” said Travolta.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Painting for Fun


It has been stated that performing some kind of creative activity is beneficial for those on the autism spectrum.  This is clear after stopping by to watch a “Painting for Fun” class offered by OUCARES.

Instructor Dawn Dandurand used the color wheel to teach one of the participants in this program how to mix colors together.    The outcome of this lesson was a painted design using different shades of red.  This was accomplished by first sketching a “pinwheel” design, selecting what colors to mix with red, and to complete the painting.

During the lesson, Dawn used gentle instruction, giving the teenage girl with autism options between different colors and drawings.   She allowed the participant to set the pace of the activities but always made sure that the participant stayed on task.  These slow invasions of the teenage girl’s autistic mind are vital, in my opinion, as an individual with autism, to grow beyond the autistic mind and recognizing the necessity of external communication.

Dawn is a public school art teacher who wanted to better understand the students with autism who sometimes attended her classes.  She started volunteering for OUCARES last year, and based on the quiet passion she brings into the program, is really making a difference.  The impact the lesson has on the participants with autism is not always visible, but the fact that they are complying with requests, and contributing themselves to the task in their own unique way, I would say that the program has completed its objective.

This program is offered Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.   For more information about this program and others offered, visit the OUCARES website 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

OUCARES Christmas Party


As the holidays concede to memory and the New Year, 2012, begins, we are left with many good memories from the past holiday season.  One such memory took place early in the season.  The enveloping joy still posses the hearts of all who attended the OUCARES annual Christmas party.

On December 3rd when holiday shopping was a concern, OUCARES hosted their fourth annual holiday party. People crowded the dance floor expressing their emotions to a mix of Christmas music, classic rock, and “The Cha Cha Slide.”  Glee was evident on all faces.  There were board games spread throughout the many circular tables.  A long line winded through the room following the announcement of pizza.

The dance floor was set up off to the side of the tables.  On the other side of the room, closest to the door, a sumo wrestling mat was set up.  Volunteers from the Oakland University Baseball team were spread around the room, as were other volunteers.  Some sought required volunteer service for academic requirements.  Others were looking for an experience they would remember for a long time.  None were disappointed.
Right next to the twinkling Christmas tree in the corner was artist and business owner, Eric Ryan from Ryan Design LLC, waiting to sketch eager faces.  I had my face sketched, and I have to say that he did an impressive job.

For more information about OUCARES and the holiday party, visit the OUCARES website at http://www.oakland.edu/oucares/.