by Janae Babineaux, AmeriCorps Member serving on the Albemarle Foundation team at Merrydale Elementary School

As we turned the page on 2014, we began our 2015 journey without hesitation. We came back from our winter break and jumped right back into service, students, and solidarity. Most of us are also involved in service outside of school and for a group of us that have been serving on the Manship Student Advisory Board, our hard work culminated Monday night at the Manship Theater. It was a night of entertainment that raised awareness and funds for Unlocking Autism. The organization uses a grassroots, local advocacy approach to develop a gateway transition for young adults with ASD in the workplace. 

As corps members we are dedicated to bettering the lives of young people and improving the communities in which we serve. Our work with the MSAB was a chance to do just that. The Manship Student Advisory Board consisted of 40+ talented and driven high school students from the Baton Rouge area. These young artists collectively showcased a true blend of schools, interests, and cultures. Over the last 8 months, they were hard at work raising money and creating Monday night’s variety show, Arts for Autism. Myself along with two other corps members, Amber Curry and Maya Curtis served as advisers on the board and guided the students throughout their project. Helping with everything from social media to fundraising and production. This board offered the opportunity for personal growth and development for its’ members as well as, community awareness and involvement. 

City Year not only had a hand in the developmental stages of the program but corps members Silas Miller and Erin Olds participated in the show. Silas charmed the audience as emcee for the night and Erin left the crowd with nothing but smiles after her original musical performance.

As family and friends gathered for Monday night’s show, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for City Year. Throughout my service I have had the opportunity to work alongside talented and self-motivated young people and this experience was no exception to that. The board’s passion for the arts and creative expression was truly moving. Moreover, their ability to use their talents as a catalyst for community awareness was inspirational.

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