All posts by Elaine

Facing the Challenge of Climbing in Nepal!

Mountaineer and dad Farzin Fallah will be facing one of the biggest challenges of his life in just a few weeks. He will embark on a climbing expedition in Nepal starting August 30 to raise funds for autism organizations, including PACT.  As many of you know, Farzin’s son Matthew is a long-time participant in our theatre and performing arts workshops. We are honored and grateful to Farzin for turning his climb of Cho-Oyu, the world’s sixth highest mountain, into a challenge that will benefit many in the autism community, including our own theatre participants.

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While summer is a time when many people step back and relax with vacations or trips to the beach, both Farzin and his son Matthew have made the most of their summer working toward their goals. In July, while Matthew participated in a pre-college program in Seattle, Farzin used the opportunity to climb two of Washington’s magnificent mountains that were within driving distance of Seattle, where the family was staying. They were Mount Si and Colchuck Peak. With the challenge of climbing Nepal’s Cho-Oyu rapidly approaching, Farzin welcomed the opportunity to continue preparing in Washington for the climb.

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To read Farzin’s account of his most recent climbs in Washington State and see more pictures of the breathtaking scenery they offered, visit his blog at climbingforautism.org.
 
And if you haven’t already done so, please consider making a contribution to this very worthwhile endeavor.  Donations can be made through a link to the National Association for Autism Research (NFAR) which you’ll find on Farzin’s website:  Climbing for Autism

We wish Farzin all the best in his climbing expedition in Nepal! You’ll find updates and photos of Farzin’s amazing  journey and his summiting of Cho-Oyu on his websites’s blog as well. 

Climbing for Autism

Most parents of children with Autism will go to any heights to help them reach their full potential. Farzin Fallah will be doing that literally when he sets out to climb Cho-Oyu, the world’s sixth highest mountain located on the border of Nepal and Tibet on August 30. 

Farzin is the father of a teen who has been participating in our theatre workshops for about two years.  An avid climber and mountaineer, Farzin is combining his dedication to helping his son with Asperger’s with his love for climbing in a fundraising project that he started called Climbing for Autism.  

Funds raised will support programs that serve those with autism in our area. All funds will go to the National Foundation for Autism (NFAR) and then be distributed to local non-profits.  PACT will receive 10% of all funds raised on this climb.

You can donate to the project through the National Foundation for Autism.  Check out the Climbing for Autism website to learn more about the project. Your can also read Farzin’s blog posts on our site to learn how he has been preparing  for this extraordinary challenge.

Kathryn Campion
Co-Founder/Executive Director
Positive Action Community Theatre (PACT)
PACT is a 501(c) non-profit organization.

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“Weird Al” Scores Big with PACT Friends!

IMG_7893 copy copyGuest blogger Jovyn Anderson is a PACT participant who recently organized a special event for friends he met at his Improv Workshop this past year. Here is Jovyn’s post about the challenges he faced and the fun everyone had at a recent “Weird Al” Yankovic Concert. This was the only summer concert open to all ages during racing season at Del Mar Race Track.

Planning for the “Weird Al” Concert 
When I went to the “Weird Al” Yankovic Concert on August 28 at the Del Mar Race Track, I was concerned that no one I had asked to go would show up. I had invited my friends from my PACT Improv workshop and knew they wanted to come. However, I was worried that I might have made some mistake while organizing this “event” and that everyone would end up going to the wrong place at the wrong time and it would be my fault. Even after all the calls I made and emails I sent to ensure this would work, I still could not help but feel anxious. Being a very logical thinker, I knew my fears had no basis in reality but that didn’t stop me from worrying. I had never been part of a big social gathering like this before, let alone organized one.

I joined the PACT Improv group over a year ago because my mother was insisting that since I was (and still am) homeschooled, I didn’t get to talk to other teens, and because of this had no friends my own age. I was nervous to join at then too, but I found everyone very kind and welcoming.  I have had a lot of fun talking to others on the same “wavelength” as me, as well as taking part in the Improv workshop activities. Still, I hadn’t gotten to really hang out with most of people there outside of the workshop and was nervous about asking them. With the help of my mother, as well as Miss Kathryn (Kathryn Campion, PACT’s executive director), I was able to announce the “Weird Al” Concert during a class. Nearly everyone showed interest and I ended up getting many of their phone numbers and later their email addresses so we could communicate on where and when to meet up. And now here I was entering the Del Mar Fairgrounds alongside my father, mother and two younger brothers.

Jovyn and friends at Weird Al Concert
Jovyn (back row, third from right) and friends at the “Weird Al” Concert

To my surprise and relief, several of my friends had already shown up by the time I got there (I was a bit late because someone had misplaced my dad’s car keys). Alex, Ethan B., and Shane were already there sitting on a row of benches outside the building that led to the bleachers for the horse races. The concert didn’t start until after the last race soRead more

we had plenty of time to talk. Soon after, Jacob, who was the first person I had befriended at PACT, and Miss Sandy (Sandy Redmon, PACT’s Artistic and Workshop Director) showed up, along with his dad and sister. After that, Chris arrived, with whom my family and I had seen a movie just weeks before. Next Michael and Kayla came. They were newer than most of us at PACT, but we quickly became friends and I even ran into them once at the beach. Lastly, my other good friend Ethan H. arrived with his mom and our group was complete- well, almost. Unfortunately, two people were busy that day and could not make it, and another wanted to come but something happened with the emails and he never got the information. I was sad they couldn’t make it but was happy to hang out with those who did.

I was sure to talk to everyone (without interrupting their own conversations or talking  too much in a conversation). I talked to Chris about Dragon Ball Z and Doctor Who; I contemplated with Alex, Jacob, Ethan B., and my dad about what to do in a zombie outbreak, Sharknado, etc.; talked to Kayla about the cartoon we both watch called Gravity Falls; and talked with Michael about photography. We all had plenty of time for this because the concert didn’t begin until after 7:00 p.m., and most of us had arrived around 4:30 p.m. Alex and I even came up with a new activity the group could do at PACT’s next session. It was great getting to talk to people my own age and be in a group, and everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves too. But the best part was easily the concert.

“Weird Al” Rocks the Stage!
“Weird Al” Yankovic is a master parody artist.  He has been writing and performing  parody songs since the 1970s, and I think most of them were even better than the originals.  Of course, I was excited to get to see him performing live, although many of my friends had not heard many of his songs. We all went out to the concert area  as the last race was ending (as we did so, Jacob correctly predicted that the horse wearing the pink would win and joked that he wished he had bet on it). There was a huge crowd, but luckily we got a good spot to see the stage from. Normally I would be nervous and overwhelmed by the loudness and crowdedness of it all, but as I stood amid the masses of people, I found, to my surprise, that I was too happy and exited to feel that way. Soon we heard music playing and suddenly saw “Weird Al” appear on the gigantic screen overhanging the stage, walking down a street and singing his version of “Tacky,” a parody of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”

It took us all a moment to realize that not only was this video being filmed live, but the location where it was being filmed was the sidewalk right on the other side of the fence encircling the stage and crowd.  A minute later “Weird Al” was walking right through the audience andRead more

up to the stage where he finished “Tacky” and then began playing polka versions of the most popular pop songs of today. Between each song, clips from “Weird Al’s” past on television and the internet played, and they were hilarious. He played many of his newer songs such as “Foil,” “Lame Claim to Fame,” “Inactive,” “(I’m so) Handy,” “First World Problems,” and “Word Crimes,” as well as some of his older hits like “Fat,” parodying Michael Jackson’s “Bad,” in which he wears a fat suit and sings about the joys of being fat. He also performed “Smells like Nirvana,” a parody of Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit,” in which he sings about how hard it is to understand the words in their songs. He also sang slower, more dramatic remixes of his most famous songs like “Eat It,” “I Lost on Jeopardy,” and “Like a Surgeon.”

I was dancing and cheering as loud as anyone else, and I looked around to see that everyone else in my group was loving the concert, too. “Weird Al” finished up the night by singing two more of his most famous hits, this time in a traditional fashion; he sang “White and Nerdy” and “Amish Paradise,” which also happened to be my favorites.

As he left the stage, he wished everyone in the crowd a good night, but as the lights went out, everyone began chanting for more. After several minutes, however, the chanting died down, and all was silent … when suddenly, the lights came back on and “Weird Al” and his band were back on stage, now wearing Jedi robes. A bunch of Stormtroopers and Darth Vader had also come up with them.

We expected him to sing one of his Star Wars-themed songs but were surprised when he started singing “We All Have Cell Phones, So Come On, Let’s Get Real,” instead (it was an in-joke). He followed up with “The Saga Begins,” a song recounting the events of The Phantom Menace to the tune of “American Pie,” and, as a finale, he sang “Yoda,” about the Jedi of the same name, to the tune of “Lola” by the Kinks.

I had such a great time at the concert, but had just as much fun getting to talk with my friends. I hope that our group can have more meetings outside of Improv as well, since I no longer feel the anxiety about it like I did before the concert. I asked them all what they thought of the concert at our PACT Improv workshop the next day. They all said that they loved it and enjoyed hanging out together.

PACT has been so awesome and I thank Miss Kathryn and Miss Sandy for all I’ve learned there. I look forward to the start of the fall session of Improv in a few weeks.

“Weird AL” on Youtube
You can find many of “Weird Al’s” music videos on Youtube. Here are a few you might enjoy.

“Weird Al’s” parody of “Tacky”

“Weird Al” performs “Yoda”  alongside a young girl with autism

PACT Featured in “Encinitas Advocate”

PACT is pleased to be featured in the April 10, 2015 issue of the Encinitas AdvocateThis timely article does a great job of capturing the work we do to help those with unique needs realize their potential, as well as the history and many benefits of our theatre workshops and other programs. We hope you’ll take a moment to learn more about us in the Advocate’s article titled, “Encinitas Theater Group Helps Those with Autism Learn to Act — and React.”

Volunteer in the News

A vital aspect of PACT’s success in teaching life skills to those with autism and other disabilities is in recruiting typical peers from our community to volunteer as peer mentors as they participate in the workshops as equals with the group. Kiarlo (Kia) Ednalino is one of those volunteers. 

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Kia recently wrote an article about her experience volunteering with PACT, part of which was published this week in the Encinitas Advocate (see page A13 after clicking the link). We are very proud of Kia and appreciate all she has done to enrich the lives of everyone at PACT. 

In her own words:
It is said to, “Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher. Life is already filled with those who want to bring you down.” The participants, their families, teachers, and fellow volunteers of PACT do just that.  In this environment, we all lift one another up.  We support ideas.  We foster growth.  We create a community and build friendships.  About a year ago, I came across an article in the newspaper detailing Positive Action Community Theatre (PACT) and the wonderful things they provide for children, teens, and adults with special needs in the community and I knew that I had to be a part of it. 

IMG_8557I have a BA in Liberal Studies with a depth of study in Arts and Education, a Visual and Performing Arts Minor from CSUSM, and am on the road to obtaining my Special Education and Multiple Subject Teaching Credentials.  As a future educator and advocate for the arts, I greatly value the importance of an inclusive education and greatly appreciate what this organization seeks to do each and every day.  Through my time volunteering with PACT, I have seen their programs serve as a vehicle for growth for children, teens, and young adults on the Autism Spectrum and other special needs.  It is so uplifting to see the “lightbulb” go on for students or for them to develop comfort in trying something that would have previously been unthinkable: flexibility in routine, improvement in spatial relations and/or eye contact, or willingness to participate in interpersonal communication.  

IMG_8568bMy experiences with performing arts in the past has shaped me into the person I have become and there are many characteristics and skills that I can attribute to being a part of performing arts.  So, it fills me with immense joy to see a different community benefit from art just as it has benefitted me.  Whenever I have the privilege of experiencing art, like I do with PACT, I am the student, learning once again.  It teaches me to be mindful of others because we are all just trying our best, each and every day.  It teaches me to take risks and to not be afraid.  It teaches me how to build and foster a safe and inclusive environment in which art is shared, personal discoveries are made, and success can present itself in many different ways.  PACT beautifully empowers its participants to come out of their shell and into a community where they can display their talents, creative genius, and potential to create.  

Contact Kathryn Campion, PACT Executive Director, if you would like to volunteer at our theatre and/or performing arts programs.
 
760-815-8512                info@pacthouse.org                 www.pacthouse.org