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autism awareness muralThe Yale Center for British Art and Chapel Haven, a residential school and independent living facility for people with cognitive disabilities, will host an innovative therapy program, which will result in a public sculpture and raised awareness of autism.

autism awareness with KarlOn Saturday, February 20, 2016 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, at Chapel Haven located at 1040 Whalley Avenue in New Haven, Connecticut, individuals on the autism spectrum will create an environmentally inviting bird sanctuary and site specific sculpture. With this inaugural program, pioneered by Linda Friedlaender, Senior Curator of Education, Yale Center for British Art, and Tina Menchetti, Art Director, Chapel Haven, under the guidance of Chicago sculptor, Margot McMahon, participants of various ages, and social and physical abilities will create art that will beautify the surroundings. The program presents opportunities for autism patients to work with a variety of materials, to engage in social interaction, and to learn cooperative and communicative skills, in a caring, supportive environment. The event is free and open to the public.

“This project encourages collaboration and teaches participants to respect one another while working on a shared goal,” said Ms. Friedlaender. “It is also a day for people to have fun, to socialize and to feel accepted in a safe space.”

“This will also be an opportunity for various community groups to meet and to learn about the wide variety of programs in the area,” said Ms. Menchetti.

The event will involve several projects. From 10:00 to 12:00 pm, children from the Yale Center for British Art Artism program and from the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Fitness gym will meet indoors to construct pre-fabricated wooden birdhouses and will make nests from colorful telephone wires. From 12:30 to 2:30 pm, teenagers on the autism spectrum will work on indoor and outdoor projects, depending on the weather. They will construct planters using waxed paper tubes, wire mesh and paint. The participants will fill the containers with potting soil, and spring flower bulbs. They will bury the planters underground, forming a maze around a large tree, where the students’ birdhouses and nests will hang from its branches. The students will also twist and turn lightweight plastic piping to create a centerpiece to attract birds and wildlife.

The art will remain on site at Chapel Haven to welcome the coming spring. Chapel Haven residents will paint a mural of the day’s activities. It will be on display at Woolsey Hall at Yale University on World Autism Awareness Day, Saturday, April 2, 2016.

“We are grateful to all those participating in this event. Our Connecticut community is filled with tremendous spirit, generosity, and enthusiasm. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide growth-enhancing experiences for those of all abilities,” said Friedlaender.

Groups and individuals collaborating on this project include the following:
Artism Outreach program, Yale Center for British Art, Linda Friedlaender, Senior Curator of Education;
ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder Fitness), Michael Storz, Advisory Board Member;
Chapel Haven, Michael Storz, President, Catherine Sullivan DeCarlo, Vice President of Admissions and
Marketing, Tina Menchetti, Art Director, residents of Chapel Haven and their teachers;
Hillhouse Hill School, Fallon Daniels, Principal;
Suzie Luft, Yale University Medical School, resident, and consulting artist;
Margot McMahon, sculptor, author, educator, consultant;
SAAY, Students for Autism Awareness at Yale
Teen Art Club for Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Yale University Child Study Center, and Yale
Center for British Art;
Wilbur Cross High School, Edith Johnson, Principal

Yale Center for British Art
The Yale Center for British Art houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. Presented to the university by Paul Mellon, (Class of 1929) the collection reflects the development of British art and culture from the Elizabethan period onward. Visit the institution online at

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