by Debra Muzikar
One of the wonderful things about moving to Fallbrook is my friendship with Joel and his mom Sandi. Joel is not only an internationally recognized artist but is an accomplished author, animator, songwriter and inspirational speaker.
Sandi is an autism warrior mom. Mom to two young adult men on the spectrum, she’s involved in many projects that make a difference such as Jeremiah’s Ranch and the Autism Tree Foundation.
Last week I talked to Sandi about Joel’s lofty aspirations which include ending segregation against disabilities in schools, helping special needs children all over the world, and producing films with good character qualities.
Joel is far along in meeting his goals. In the last several years he has spoken to over 10,000 elementary school students about autism. He’s been invited to China to speak twice, and he’s already produced films. Watch this video “Thriving with Autism” and be impressed.
Last year a group of us met Temple Grandin for lunch at the Future Horizons conference in Los Angeles. At that lunch Temple gave artists recommendations.
Temple was effusive about Joel’s “I Can Fly” video he produced for the Autism Tree Project Foundation on behalf of Blue Horizons. The short film is an instructive video that teaches the basic steps to flying in an airplane. It opens doors so people with autism can see the world. (It also includes a musical social story, “I Can Fly”, written and performed by Angela Neve). Temple was so impressed she mentioned it in her presentation that day.
“These kids need a portfolio on their Iphone or IPAD,” Temple said. “They don’t have social skills but their portfolio will speak for itself.”
Temple liked Joel’s portfolio which included his recent book about bullying and character building – Courage at the Concert.
Every week it seems Joel and his mom Sandi have a new adventure.
“Like would be boring without our kids,” Sandi says.
Last Friday Joel spoke at the Family Health Center’s of San Diego Spirit of the Barrio. Past speakers include Jerry Sanders, the Mayor of San Diego, Patrick DeGuire – renowned comedian, Joseph Wambaugh NY Times Bestselling Author Joseph Wambaugh, Luis Castillo of the San Diego Chargers, and Grammy Nominated singer-songwriter Jason Mraz.
Joel created the beautiful piece below to be auctioned off to benefit the Family Health Center of San Diego. This is one of many art pieces Joel has donated to help nonprofits.
“God created everyone with a purpose. Everyone is important and special,” Joel says.
To see more of Joel’s art and his speaking engagements visit his website.
I recently had the most awful experience and have not even been able to write about it. let’s just say segregation is alive and well – sometimes even in the most “inclusive” places. I fought for my son, but was so disgusted with the organization by the time I was done that only others will benefit from our efforts. Thanks for a happier piece here. There’s always hope!!!!
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