Autism awareness through music and art
Not everyone realizes how much hard work over time goes into the results My Way achieves. This underscores the importance of organizing such events, educating the public and helping to change attitudes towards a condition that is not widely understood. For example, there was a professional photographer on site who had taken photos of My Way students with local celebrities and exhibited them in a solo exhibition scheduled to open on April 2. Seeing the overflowing crowd on April 12, he suggested (as many visitors would) that the My Way center “needs a bigger room” – an observation reflecting changing attitudes. As Petrosyan pointed out, a few years earlier, they could not have dreamed of having such facilities as they have now; indeed, she said she still remembers a time “when society thought even a small rented apartment was wasted on hopeless autistic children…”.
The exhibition itself represented a breakthrough, since the photographer personally had nothing to do with autism before. He had approached My Way with the idea, then arranged several dozen tasteful black-and-white photos, each featuring an autistic child or teenager with a public figure, such as a television presenter, musician, actress, or even a chess master. . Most of them were My Way students, but there were also other autistic children living in Armenia. The show kicked off on April 2 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and two talented My Way students provided music for guests and media.
Music and art for the guests of honor
In addition to family and friends, a number of local and national officials attended the My Way Inclusive concert and sale-exhibition. Among them were guests from the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, all people who work with My Way as the board of directors of the National Foundation autism. There were also people from the Office of Human Rights Defenders who were visiting for the second time, media, the photographer who had organized his exhibition and a video operator. Students, parents, staff, colleagues from other developmental centers, the autism and other disabilities community, and even their students were in attendance.
On stage, two bands offered music, The Band Armenia and alternative rock/folk rock band Nemra. Both have already become valuable partners, ready to rehearse with the students, to play with them and for them. Solos, mixed amateurs/professionals and ensembles appeared with My Way students (Arthur Miraqjan, Gagik Galustov, David Ghazaryan, Eric Petrosyan, Hamlet Stepanyan, Raphael Martirosyan, Vardan Ayvazyan, Vanik Grigoryan, Tigran Ispiryan, Nare Ter- Grigoryan, Maria Marabyan, Suren Abgaryan, Aghavni Karapetyan, Lusine Sahakyan, Gevorg Haroyan, Felix Arushanyan and Edwin Hovsepyan). In addition to piano music, students performed vocal music; the center now even has a choir, with boys and girls.
In addition to the concert, visitors were able to enjoy a presentation of the arts and crafts objects that the students have produced: paintings on new easels and, on shelves, scarves, bags, pottery, decorative objects, stuffed animals, aromatic soaps and candles, greeting cards, bracelets, necklaces, Easter items such as fabric bunnies and chickens, clay figurines, decorative painted Easter eggs and, new, multipurpose boxes decorated in knitting.