The first I Can school: Marymede Catholic College in South Morang

By Christian Tsoutsouvas

Early December 2014 saw the culmination of months spent working with a sizeable group of autistic students of assorted ages, personalities and points on the spectrum.

Many of their parents were thankfully able to come the final presentation night to see each one of them show us what they’d learned from the program about themselves and their autism. From within the group we managed to get one hilarious MC, one very confident public speaker, three amazing visual artists, a future journo, and some very creative filmmakers who put together a video with some very touching reflections on what’s changed for the better over the past few months.

From teachers we were hearing that their students were coming out of their shell in the classrooms and showing more confidence in themselves and their ideas. From parents we were hearing that home life has been happier and more harmonious than it was before. Many of the students now have enough self-confidence and self-belief to share around.

They are now ready to start mentoring younger students on the spectrum this year, in the way that they were mentored last year by Chris Varney, myself, Caitlin Downie-Kempson, Marcell Wombwell and Steve Cherubin.

From barely knowing each other at the beginning, the students are now a close-knit group who have embraced their autism and each other. Thanks to the great staff at Marymede, namely Julia Wake, Amy Ross, Luke Robinson and Annmarie Kane, this year we’ll be able to reach more students in need of guidance, friendship, relaxation and more understanding in themselves and in the people around them.

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