My time spent as an undergrad at the University of the Arts was exciting, and not just because of because of the college parties (though they were fun too). The excitement came from studying digital media at a time when YouTube did not exist and Facebook was not yet a household name. The digital landscape was like the Wild West and I was exploring at a university that incubated innovation.
I credit my education at The University of the Arts with much of what has made me successful– that and my gypsy spirit, which drives my curiosity and tenacity.
That is why I was excited to be able to hold The Autism Expressed launch gala last week on the university campus.
I organized the gala to celebrate Autism Expressed’s success with the communities that have helped the company move forward with its goals, and to connect with supporters and future customers.
But planning an event like this was no easy task. It’s nothing like hosting a party in college. Planning and coordination for the gala took a tremendous amount of my time in recent weeks. Here are just a few of the tasks I’ve juggled: reaching out to sponsors to retrieve their logos to feature in printed programs, reviewing catering details, coordinating speakers and gathering their headshots and bios, planning video content for an interactive installation and promo video featuring Autism Expressed’s Advisors, and finding a place for the West Philadelphia orchestra to unload and set up their equipment, because of course, a gypsy spirit needs a gypsy band.
Having a launch party means having fun and celebrating the new and exciting path this company and those who support it are about to travel down. It’s also about having people who are enthusiastic about our work celebrate with us. Often those different groups of people share the same interests, whether those are education, technology, or startups.
Because Autism Expressed is a startup with a strong social purpose, our launch party was also an event to promote awareness about autism and highlight our mission. We have the opportunity and the obligation to make sure the guests fully understand what individuals with autism face as they approach their transition to independence. Moreover, we want them to understand what is possible for these individuals.
Our course, many of our guests are already on the same page. Organizations such as Bancroft, the Pediatric Wellness Network, and the School District of Philadelphia were there, promoting the importance of digital literacy for individuals with disabilities, and talking about how their use of Autism Expressed has helped them improve outcomes for their learners.
However, a greater goal is to reach those people who have had less experience with autism. We want to encourage those people to embrace their fellow community members with autism, so that what they first see is not the condition of autism, but a person who possesses many unique qualities.