January 30, 2019

Enriching communication for youth with autism: ArTEA

Theme: Promoting Inclusion and Educational Opportunity

The arTEA project, the inspiration of three Global UGRAD 2016-2017 alumni from Venezuela, is enriching the lives of children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through arts and creativity. ArTEA, a combination of the words ‘art’ and the Spanish translation of ASD, ‘Trastornos del Espectro Autista’ (TEA), develops the artistic talents of young people with ASD so they can learn how to express themselves better, develop their personal independence, and successfully accomplish activities in an inclusive environment.

The alumni developed the arTEA concept to travel along a two-way street: developing means of expression of youth with ASD as well as providing tools and techniques for their caregivers and expanding the understanding of ASD among their communities. To date, nearly 4,000 people have participated in a variety of workshops as a result of this #AEIF2017 project. The numbers will continue to grow as the founders expand their successful model beyond the state of Zulia to other parts of Venezuela.

According to a report by the arTEA project (http://www.thearteaproject.org.ve), the implementation of this unique initiative “significantly increased the positive attitudes of the participants,” whether it be a parent of a participating student, a teacher, or a volunteer. Robert Echeverría, the father of a beneficiary of arTEA, says that "My son has great enthusiasm and motivation for the activities of the project, which is reflected in the fact that he gets up early to come to the activities, when he usually has trouble doing it every day to go to school."

Recognized as a significant positive impact in Zulia State, arTEA has proven to be a positive force for change for those with ASD as well as for spreading awareness. Though the alumni who developed the project say that “A year ago, the idea of arTEA seemed like a distant dream,” the impact has given them confidence that arTEA will continue to grow and be successful. “[P]rojects like arTEA give us hope because they are clear examples of how international cooperation initiatives can bring positive change to those most in need.”

Are you inspired by the ArTEA project? Now is the perfect time to sign in to your alumni.state.gov account, find your AEIF team and submit a project on Promoting Inclusion and Educational Opportunity. Don’t wait! Applications can be submitted starting on February 1.

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