RU hit off Monday afternoon with its second year running of the Autism Awareness Talent Show, and it was a success.
The show started with a number from the University Singers. They sang a song from the hit musical “Rent.” Once the song ended it was met with applause from the audience.
People were very interactive with each act and were willing to help any student or staff member that required volunteers.
There were two specific acts that required help, one that was improv and the other a sketch. Both acts got positive reactions from the audience, roars of laughter.
There were a few interludes of education from the staff, starting with a video on YouTube called “Animated explanation of autism.” The video was a short animation explaining the importance of differences, whether its looks, gender, perspective, differences in understanding or feelings. It slowly transitions on how to briefly understand the mind of people with autism and how to be a good friend to those with autism.
There was also a Prezi presented with statistics, such as “ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is estimated to affect more than two million individuals in the U.S.,” “Approximately 10-14 percent of college students are on the autism spectrum,” and “Approximately 100 individuals are diagnosed every day with autism in the U.S.” It really gave an idea of how common ASD is in not only the U.S., but in universities.
There were a few notable performances that stood against bullying or beating the stigma associated autism.
Jay Baumann, a former student, spoke about autism not defining Baumann through a spoken word poem. Prior to Baumann’s spoken word poem, Baumman spoke about their great success since graduating RU.
Jonathan Tupper was able to display his brilliance with memorization of piano music sheets as he freestyled a piece out of Romeo and Juliet. Not only that, Tupper poked fun at himself, calling himself the poster child of “autism” by comparing his childhood photo to the actual representation of autism.
To close the show, Yolanda Flowers, psychology major, recited a poem she wrote specifically for the event about the power behind words. “The reason I wrote the poem is because people make fun of people with disabilities. I know that it can hurt. Words carry a lot of weight,” said Flowers.
Flowers continued to speak about how words can affect someone and can terribly influence someone’s life. “I know what it’s done with me, words” said Flowers.
Flowers said the show was enjoyable. “It was awesome. It was very compelling. Especially how they used the improv. I love improv. I love the arts,” Flowers said. “And just to see some people with special need get up there and do what they love it’s very empowering and uplifting” Flowers said.
Associate Director of Academic Success, Danielle Smith, said she thought the show was well received and had a great mix of talents and educational performances. Smith said she liked performing in the talent show because she found the energy of the audience to be supportive. Smith said all the performers were inspiring.
Smith confirmed it will be brought back next year. “When you have a talent show, you showcase people’s unique abilities and that’s exactly what we wanted to do, squash people’s stigmas about how people with disabilities are not capable. We will definitely bring it back next year,” said Smith.