Project heART for Healing: Art Psychosocial Intervention for Children with Autism

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014


A NEW and exciting event will happen to teenagers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Davao City on March 22, 2014 at SM Lanang Premier. It will be spearheaded by the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Network of Winners (MADE N.O.W) and Metrobank Foundation in collaboration with Autism Society Philippines, SM and ILLC Davao.

MADE N.O.W. is a group composed of painters, sculptors, interior designers and architects who were former winners of the prestigious Metrobank Art and Design Excellence competitions from 1985 to present.

MADE N.O.W. President, renowned sculptor Mr. Noell El Farol, said, “Our deep long advocacy is to provide a high-quality and well balanced non-formal educational support for students and children. Our vision is to enable all children to reach their potential by preparing them to become lifelong learners, problem solvers, responsible citizens, and productive members of society using arts as its foundation. Our members are dedicated to making the arts accessible in communities through programs such as Project heART.”

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“Project heART for Healing” is an art therapy program that uses the science of art psychotherapy and the technical skills of the artists. Its objective is to encourage teens with autism spectrum disorder with autism spectrum disorder and those in conflict with the law, victims of physical abuse, mental and sexual abuse, to unleash their creative potentials, discover the exhilarating world of visual arts and experience the joys of art making. The workshop aims to enable its participants to see their worth, construct healthy identities and become responsible citizens and social movers using various modalities of visual arts. Project heART is facilitated by experts in the field of art therapy collaboratively working with visual artists advocating common cause in providing psycho-social programs.

We are grateful that the ASP, through Ms. Cristina Estampador, a former ASP Trustee and current ASP Project Coordinator for the Project heART for Healing, identified Davao City as one of the venues of the workshop which goes around the country. Ms. Cris explains that this workshop differs from others as it allows persons with ASD the freedom to express their own thoughts and feelings without judgment. The focus is not on fine motor skills but rather on expression. Project heART for Healing is guided by psychologist Dr. Grace Brillantes-Evangelista. It is an art psychosocial intervention for teens with autism to help them build a good sense of self and confidence.

This workshop is open to budding artists aged 13 and above, whose parents are active members of the Autism Society Philippines. Parents who are not yet members of the ASP simply have to sign up for membership. Slots are limited to 30 participants only and art supplies will be provided by MADE N.O.W. Parents who would like their teenage child to participate may contact me at 09177055075 or by email and I will send you the corresponding application form and the detailed instructions about the workshop. Deadline for submission of applications is on March 18, 2014.

Metrobank’s “Art Made Public” exhibit will open on March 20, 2014 at SM Lanang Premier, followed by art lecture series for students on March 21, 2014 and the Project heART for Healing workshop on March 22, 2014.

I consider this as a rare opportunity for our youth with ASD who will be fortunate to meet and work with artists. These artists say that Project heART is their way of paying back or sharing their God-given talents. This early, I would like to thank Mr. Noelle El Farol and the artists of MADE N.O.W., Ms. Yvette P. Macayan, Senior Program Officer of Metrobank Foundation and Ms. Cris Estampador of ASP for bringing Project heART to Davao City.

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Jane Ann S. Gonzales is a mother of a youth with autism. She is an advocate/core member of the Autism Society Philippines and Directress of the Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) Davao, a centre for teenagers and adults with special needs. For comments or questions, please email janeanngonzales@yahoo.com).

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 12, 2014.

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