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Autism Cook Islands holiday programme kicks off

Wednesday 20 April 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Local, National

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Autism Cook Islands holiday programme kicks off
Autism Cook Islands kicks off its holiday programme with an art class. Caleb Fotheringham/22041923

Autism Cook Islands holiday programme got underway with a drawing class hosted by local artist Hori Miller on Tuesday at Avarua School Hall.

Kat Jensen from Autism Cook Islands said a lot of autistic children had artistic abilities.

“They enjoy art and they have had a fantastic time today,” Jensen said. 

“Hori has got them drawing things they like to draw, he’s got them outside to pick things they want to draw and he’s spending one and one time with them.”

The day was divided into two groups for primary and secondary aged children, 17 people attended the art class.

Drawings ranged from Sonic the Hedgehog to Lego robots.

Miller, who volunteered his time to take the class said: “It’s been good, the kids have been teaching me more than I’ve been teaching them.”

Miller said he was always surprised by children's eye for detail.

He started the lesson by teaching basic design which moved to the children drawing what they liked.

The next events in the holiday programme are the Airport Fire and Aviation family visit on April 27, and Tumutoa Tours family visit on April 28.

Jensen said the Tumutoa tour will see the children weaving, husking coconuts and fire dancing with unlit sticks.

A parent of one of the children, Nate Nelio said the holiday programme was “just fantastic”.

“It’s excellent, it’s definitely good for the kids, I find it just broadens their imagination and everything like that, especially with this (art) programme happening at the moment,” Nelio said.

“It gives them something out of the normal to do but it also lets them interact with other kids.”

Jensen said the organisation will also have a session this week with the Cook Islands Autism’s parents on the new transition programme.

“That’s getting our end of school-age children ready to go into the workforce, so it’s just an introduction to the parents on how we think this programme is going to work,” Jensen said.

Jensen thanked Apii Avarua School principal, Engia Baxter for the use of the school hall for the art session.