Ambassadors of Autism

A while back now I delivered a project called Animated ASDES. Here we worked with autistic clients get their voice across to employers. They explained skills that employers should learn to help them deal better with their autistic employees. We empowered participants to say what needed to be said and created a short film about what we’d found.

So what is empowerment then? Lots of people mistakenly think it’s giving people a voice and giving them the power to do the things they want to do. I disagree. You already have the voice and nobody gives you the power. To empower someone means showing them the seed that has the potential to grow inside of them and then giving them to tools to cultivate it for themselves.

So when Bay TV in Swansea asked me to do a short interview about the project and talk about ASDES, autism, and the project I hesitated. What’s the point in empowering someone and helping them to grow their own confidence if you’re then going to talk to the media on their behalf. Nope. That’s not how I roll. Instead I felt that the interview should be with one of the participants. Their voice should be heard, not mine. I’ll take a back seat on this one thank you very much.

Today then, Rhys Lewis and I went over to the TV studios in Swansea where Rhys has been interviewed about his experiences by the lovely Rachel Hopkins.  Rhys voiced his ideas about what it is like to live with autism and how ASDES supports those with autism in getting into the workplace. He was articulate, well reasoned, and came across as a complete pro. It’s time to forget every stereotype, and throw away anything you think you know. Rhys tells it like it is.

You can see his interview TONIGHT on Bay TV [Freeview 8 and VIrgin 159]
The film Animated ASDES will be launched on May 11th at the Autism Awareness Day in Tapestri, Swansea. Contact ASDES for more information on this event via their website HERE.
If you’re interested in knowing more about autism then Rhys tells me it’s also worth watching Are you Autistic? which airs on Channel 4 tonight at 10pm.

More on the Animated ASDES project is HERE.

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Thinking Positivity

We’ve been Creatively Employable over at Melyn Community Centre again today. For our last workshop we’ve given our group freedom to express themselves and present themselves to the group.  Standing up and explaining what your pictures are about and how you found positivity out on the streets of Neath is now second nature to all our participants.

Finding a different perspective on the way you see life is what it’s all about. Realising that success is a state of mind is the key to tackling the world. Our participants are more confident in the way they approach and talk to strangers as well as working with each other to tackle what they find.

More and more employers are looking for people who can think outside of the box. Awareness, mindfulness, positive thinking, and creativity, enhance any skills portfolio. Add in the ability to speak confidently to groups and explain the rationale behind ideas and interests and your skill set is on target for success. “Tell us about yourself” is now an interview question that our participants will relish in answering.

Tell us about yourself

This week at Creatively Employable we challenged participants to explain the things that make them feel confident and happy. We chatted about the body language of a confident person and how eye contact can help to get your ideas across in a positive and informative way.

Options  for creativity included drawing or photographs, but all our participants chose photography. On such a beautiful Spring day in Neath can you blame them? Being out in the sunshine with cameras gives an instant boost of well-being and confidence. The pictures they created showed individuality and imagination.

The brief was to give a 2 minute presentation on a theme of their choosing. Considering how to talk to the audience and communicate ideas about what you found was the ultimate goal. Our group should be really proud of their accomplishments today. Standing in front of a projector screen and communicating effectively to a group of strangers is no mean feat!

A Positive Environment

We’ve been getting Creatively Employable over in Neath again today. This time we’ve been challenging participants to photograph the local environment in a positive way. Our intrepid local explorers scoured every corner of the area and came back with evidence of what is working in Melyncryddan. There’s a massive community spirit here and it’s great to see what the place has to offer.

At the end of the session each pair of participants delivered their photographs as a presentation to the group. In only one minute they summed up everything they had found and what they gained from the experience that was positive.

Explaining choices and decisions and fielding questions and answers is a real skill, and this is not just applicable to employment situations. When you find yourself at home staring into your cuppa questioning what is going well in your life, thinking about the positive and using it to make good plans for the future is something we all need to do from time to time.

Creatively Employable

We’ve been scribbling and photographing our way to positivity today over with Communities First in Melyncryddan, Neath. Over four weeks Creatively Employable aims to harness people’s creative skills as well as reflect on what strengths our participants have available. Going into employment situations with the ability to believe in your own good qualities is something we all need help with every now and then. People telling you to believe in yourself is all very well but without knowing what you have to believe in makes it a real challenge for some people.

So what exactly were we designing here? I’ll unveil all early next week.

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Tomorrow in Briton Ferry

Tomorrow I’ll be in Briton Ferry for a Family Fun Day run by Neath Communities First. This area of Neath has a massive community vibe and everything in this small town is run with community in mind.

Studies in the UK are showing that community has massive health implications. Local people who work together to support each other are more likely to stay healthy. It’s awesome to think that recent trends on well-being and prevention are finally getting the prominence they deserve in the press.

Of course in Neath they’ve known about this for years which is why health, well-being, sports, holistic therapies, good eating, and fun have always been prominent at community events. Supporting families and individuals to be better, healthier, versions of themselves is a common sense approach that I’m happy to support and be involved with.

We’ll be kicking off at 11am tomorrow at Hengwrt Barn in Llansawel Crescent. It costs nothing and everybody is welcome. I’ll be encouraging people to have a go at taking alternative pictures of themselves and considering how photography can be good for your mind and soul.

See you tomorrow!

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Big Pharma

I haven’t written for a while because I’ve been busy working on some of my own personal artmaking. This blog is not just a front for the workshops we run but also for my own practice. It’s no good running workshops telling people how to relax and get the most out of their creative side if I’m not doing the same!

I’ve been working on various different things at the moment which are not in the realm of my usual artmaking. It’s good to leave your comfort zone every now and then and rise to a challenge. My art is usually cut photographs, collage, and picture based work. It’s really refreshing to diversify into 3D works and try something new. I’ve been playing with Lego with an idea I’ve had for an exhibition in Denmark. I’m considering what the far future might hold and what kind of world we might live in.

Miniturization, globalization, and innovative uses of existing materials is where I think we’ll be at. Thinking about it, that’s where we’ve always been at. We’re always trying to adapt and improve our lot to make ourselves better. We’re always striving for longevity and trying to harness nature to provide us with either a quick fix or a long-term strategy depending on what frame of mind we’re in. As we become more technologically advanced we’re more and more reliant on tech to get through our day. Would there be a way to exist without it? It’s hard to see how we can ever be independent of technology. Are we becoming so dependent on it all that we’re in danger of becoming a world of addicts. What will Big Pharma hold for us in the future?

Below: Big Pharma 6cm x 6cm x 8cm. Made from Lego and found little plastic people.

Melanie Ezra_Big Pharma [left side view]