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Help Arts 'n Autism LIFEE Program

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Hello, my name is Patricia Thomas and I am the Program Director for Arts 'n Autism. Arts 'n Autism is an innovative after school, respite, adult vocational, and summer camp program for individuals on the autism spectrum. We are located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the University of Alabama and the Crimson Tide.

We have always had a great relationship with the University, they send us wonderful volunteers and we are grateful to be part of their work study program too. These young adults change our lives, and we know that we change some of theirs too. We were excited when one of those volunteers introduced us to Jalen Hurts . He's a real celebrity around here and is a special interest to many of our adults with autism. One of those adults is our music teacher Justin Mixon
This volunteer recorded a video of Justin talking about Jalen, she showed it to Mr. Hurts, and the next thing we knew Justin had a very special surprise visitor. No one who was there will ever forget the genuine joy in the room shared by both gentlemen.
Of course, we expected nothing out of it...until Jalen tweeted the video and it went viral. It was Justin who said “Now more people know about Arts 'n Autism. Maybe this will help our program.” It's so like Justin to think of others. That is only one of the many reasons he is a role model in this program.

Coincidentally, we could really use some help right now. Due to state budget cuts we have lost a large part of our funding and have had to cut our budget drastically. This puts the very important LIFEE program on the back burner. LIFEE stands for Learning is Fundamental for Education and Employment. This is our group of young adults who have aged out of school and are now working to fulfill their potential by becoming independent, working adults. They need supported employment services, adult social/life skills training, and friendship. We are their bridge to a functional adulthood. In order to continue to do this we need to acquire a building (already earmarked for us, we just have to purchase it) where we can expand our program hours and put into place our first business which will provide employment for those still waiting, and help our program sustain itself without constant fundraising.

It would allow us to begin develop a pre-k day program for early intervention, something we do not have room for as long as our main building is housing our young adults.

Tuscaloosa is a vibrant and progressive oasis in the middle of rural West Alabama, and we are proud to be servants of this community. Arts 'n Autism is the only program of it's type here and admits individuals with autism regardless of their family's ability to pay.

Our need for scholarships in this impoverished region, and inside this orphaned population is extensive, and is the focus of our fundraising on a day by day basis. But those babies grow up so fast, and we need to grow with them. Maybe Jalen's visit was for more than a moment of joy.

Maybe this young man threw us a pass that will allow us to reach the end zone and score one for autism in this underserved state.

Roll Tide,

Patricia Thomas
Program Director,
Arts 'n Autism

P.S. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about our program. We would love to hear from you.


Patricia Thomas
Tuscaloosa, AL
Arts N Autism Inc

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