Tell us about the Brooklyn Autism Center (BAC).
BAC is a school for children with autism and it’s really close to PS 8. The school was founded by one of my Mom’s best friends, who has twin boys, one of whom has autism.
Tell us about the after-school program called “BAC Friends.”
BAC Friends is a really cool volunteer program where once a week typically developing kids from neighborhood schools play games, do crafts, dance and sing with kids who have autism. It’s harder for kids with autism to socialize and play with other kids so this program tries to help them.
How did you find out about the program?
My friend Ian is in the school. I’ve grown up with Ian and his brother Jake my whole life.
What do you do at BAC friends?
Each week we are put into different groups. Each child with autism is paired with a teacher and a volunteer. We do arts & crafts projects, games and activities on the SMART Board. Sometimes a guitar teacher comes in so we listen (and dance!) to music. Everyone is supportive of each other and it is so much fun.
Are you nervous working around kids with autism?
Not at all. The kids are so nice. I love them so much. Plus, there is always a teacher around to help.
What do you love most about BAC Friends?
What I love most about BAC is that we do different activities each week. It’s a different adventure, something to look forward to. I feel like I’m really helping the kids and having fun at the same time.
What are the benefits to kids at PS 8?
BAC teaches you that everyone is different and that’s okay. Everyone needs friends and I love being a friend to the kids at BAC. I want them to feel special. It’s fun to go from being a student all day to being like a teacher after school. I feel like I’m learning from them as much as they are learning from me. My mom says that programs like this help prevent bullying.
Do some of your friends at PS 8 volunteer too?
Yes, three of my friends from school also volunteer each week. That makes it even more fun!
If a child at PS 8 is interested in participating in the after-school program, who do their parents contact?
Ray Cepeda is the Executive Director at BAC and he’s awesome! Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out their website www.brooklynautismcenter.org.
*Please note: BAC is expanding and will be moving to a new, bigger location for the new school year.
By Jessie Levin, Class 4-308
Photo credits to Jana Levin