Contributed by Oliver Stevenson, Program Coordinator at A.WARE

Since its creation, A.WARE Foundation has had one primary goal: to empower people with different abilities through art. We are a student-run non-profit organization that teaches art classes in the Greater Vancouver area and raises awareness for issues involving the neurodivergent community.

A.WARE strives to arrange art classes involving simple and accessible crafts that offer room for creativity and versatility. In fall online classes, we incorporated seasonal crafts for holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to garner inspiration from the world around us. Participants created snowpeople snow-globes, Thanksgiving turkeys, dreamcatchers and more throughout our six-week season. Over the course of the term, program coordinators and assistants were able to develop friendships with their members through these art classes, allowing for meaningful experiences inspiring creativity and joy. At the beginning of 2022, A.WARE prepared for Spring online classes, generating a new and exciting batch of activities for the change of the seasons. Once again wishing to honour holidays, we organized crafts such as Easter chicks and Earth Day paper flowers to celebrate the occasion. Additionally, A.WARE has invited Christine Turcott, a prominent neurodiverse artist, to lead the closing workshop of the spring season. With an ever-growing collection of ideas for the years to come, A.WARE Foundation is determined to continue to grow and inspire.

Screenshot of Aware Foundation art class on Zoom. Participants are holding up Easter bird crafts.

Our art classes aim to serve as an outlet for individuals who may not have easy access to this form of expression and wish to explore their creativity. We believe art to be a fundamental part of human expression, allowing us to unleash aspects of ourselves that are not readily visible. By creating art as a group, we can establish meaningful bonds and tell stories through our creations rather than our words. For as long as the arts have existed, it has continued to bring people together. Through differences and change, it has enabled connections that surpass conventionality. We hope that our efforts to provide as many people with this outlet as we can evoke positive change and help erase the social stigma surrounding people in the neurodivergent community.

As someone who has experienced first-hand the positive impact of the arts, I seek to convey my passion to anyone I can. I joined A.WARE with this thought in mind, hoping that my addition to the community would allow me to invigorate people in the neurodivergent community with a love of art. After a year, I feel more responsibility than ever to spread this message, seeing the positive effect art has had on our participants. Art is an inspirational tool for those who are brave enough to wield it, and we as A.WARE Foundation strive to use art to empower as many people as possible.