Autistic Students Plaque for their Mosaic art piece at Zoo
Organized by: Lucille Morelli
Aloha, my name is Miss Lucy and I am an artist who, for the last 15+ years, has worked with special needs children on the autism spectrum. Our small school on Oahu, Loveland Academy, has closed its Makiki campus doors after many years and after having matriculated countless children. We are fundraising in an effort to buy a bronze plaque to commemorate our Mosaic art & hardware to hang the 39 mosaics that we donated to the Honolulu Zoo. It will be hung on the entrance wall of the children's Zoo, here in Hawaii that is called the Keiki Zoo. The Zoo is right across the street from the ocean so we need the materials to be strong from the elements. Let me give you a little background about how this Mosaic idea started and the process. There is a large wall bordering our old school, that is a frequent site for graffiti. In 2013, the children and I began a cross-curriculum project to make small (approximately 12”x12”) mosaics that would create a checkerboard pattern to cover that wall. The project was characteristic of our methods of hands-on-learning. Our theme was zoo animals. Since many of our students are lower functioning, we used a simple coloring book as the inspiration for our animal designs. Each student chose 2-3 of their favorite animals and colored their pages with crayons. Later, this helped them recreate it in clay and color it with glaze. With their academic teacher, they wrote a short passage about their chosen animals. Due to the large variations among the students, in terms of age and academic abilities, they were asked to write either something simple about the animal, it's color or their feelings about it; to make up a rhyme about the animal; or to look up facts about the animal on the computer. Learning about each animal was fun, but what we take for granted, was that the fine motor skills required to stamp the letters into clay sentences, was a challenging task for most of the students. Using their large motor skills to smash tiles with a hammer was the most fun, but getting them to put on goggles or gloves would sometimes take the whole class period because they would keep taking them off due to their sensory issues. Needless to say, the project was both fun and challenging for all involved. The owner, Dr. Patricia Dukes, fought hard to create an amazing place for the overlooked children in our society. The state mainstreamed many of the children into public schools. Some of our students, whom I have known since they were four years old, have grown up and aged out of our school. In the end, we were unable to afford the large school and grounds. The last of the children have been moved to Dr. Dukes' property in Waiahole, which is the site of Loveland Academy's residential and vocational training centers. Once the mosaics started becoming a reality, “My Vision” of making an anti-graffitti wall, soon turned into “these mosaics need to be at the Honolulu Zoo for ALL to enjoy!” This plaque will commemorate these students, their amazing art, and all children within the autistic spectrum. This will be an opportunity for all former students (whose work would be displayed) and the many teachers and volunteers at Loveland Academy who worked on the project. Especially now that the school has closed, families and friends of our students would be able to visit their mosaics at the zoo and see their work displayed. They would also remember how they worked through their difficulties to accomplish this amazing project. It would also be a great opportunity to share the skills of children with disabilities since Honolulu is visited by so many people from around the world. Thank you, or as we say here in Hawaii Mahalo !