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.
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.
I 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.
My 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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.pacthouse.org