The Owl House in Aldona was set up as a community initiative offering services to children with autism spectrum disorders and their families, in April 2018. Now, a little over three months later I can’t help feeling like we are so much more.
On June 2nd, the day of our first workshop we had 15 spots to fill and all I could think was ‘How do we make people see what we have to offer here’ and ‘why would anyone take the pains to find a house in the most interior part of Aldona and spend two hours of their time dancing with people they had never met before.’ That day, much like several other days that would follow, people surprised me. We had a full house! People came flowing in and we’ve built a family that will never stop growing.
Since then we’ve had more than 15 workshops exploring dancing, acting, cooking, movies, making music, painting, crafts and gardening. We’ve had toddlers, teens and adults come in with their families to experience each of these workshops we personally curate. And as I stand there watching children squirt colour, slap drums, make sandwiches and dance with their parents, hearing their squeals of delight and sighs of accomplishment, I feel a surge of unadulterated elation for all that is to come. From writing out countless personal messages, the phone calls and facebook posts, all consolidate into this feeling that I feel everyday. Hope.
Hope that I as a psychologist and educator can contribute to the lives of people, that we as a team can empower children and families who are often forced to face a society that is only looking to “cure” or “correct” them and hope that all of us as a community can redirect this focus of correction towards acceptance, coping and acknowledgement of individual strength.
Strength that so often goes unrecognized and untapped, strengths that have changed the world and continue to do so. I’ve met amazing children who’s understanding of art, music and technology leaves me bewildered. And every day I realise more and more that I can learn from them as much as they can learn from me (If not more). So, although we have a vision, a mission and concrete goals plotted out for the months and years to come I know that the future of The Owl House is going to be a great big adventure, led by the beautiful individuals who are at the core of this initiative.
A caregiver to one of our children recently told me that a young girl who absolutely loves movies turned down the chance to go to INOX ( not a regular privilege for her ) to come by The Owl House. In another instance, a parent shows up half an hour before the event begins every single time because her son will not sit still until he arrives here.
One of the many highlights for me, is when a parent tells us about their child doing something at The Owl House that they have never done before, because that is precisely what we are looking to create, opportunities for experience. An experience that will stay with them forever.