I think most of you will remember that April 2nd of every year is World Autism Awareness Day or in Kiswahili, Siku ya Usonji Duniani. You can refresh your memories with our posts from last year (http://toanafasi.blogspot.com/2016/04/usonji-day-20.html) and the year before (http://toanafasi.blogspot.com/2015/04/usonji-day_16.html).
This year we celebrated with the kids from the Gabriella Children's Rehabilitation Center, where we board five students from Msaranga Primary School whose intellectual impairments prevent them from remaining within the public school system. They are not autistic, per se, but each has issues of developmental delay so they need the extra support and resources that Gabriella has to offer.
Two of these students, Danny and Vincent, have become master drummers as a result of their time at Gabriella! In addition to making friends and learning appropriate social behaviors as well as studying basic literacy and numeracy skills, the Center helps kids with such impairments to channel excess energy into creative activities. Some kids love to draw or paint, others like to make things with beads or leather, others still take to farming and planting, and then there is music and dance.
Because the main organizers of Usonji Day chose to focus on next year's celebration in a big way, not too much was done this year on April 2nd itself. There was no march to the stadium, no speeches, no lunch. So Gabriella decided they would embark on a month-long celebration of autism awareness and kicked it off with a series of road shows around Moshi in which the kids performed and the Gabriella staff spread the word about what autism is, how it can be coped with, what to do if you suspect your child is autistic, etc. Check below for some footage of these great road shows!
Practice makes perfect! Here are Danny and Vincent drumming to their hearts' content with Mzee leading the beat at the Gabriella Center.
Performance ready! The boys await their first road show in the Kiboriloni marketplace while the Toa staff (and Kaitlin!) look on in their Toa garb.
Time for their close-up!
And finally it's showtime!!