Sensory Grooves Update #2

Sensory Grooves Update #2

Dear Groovy Community,

Since you last heard from us in December, Team Sensory Grooves has been “strutting our stuff” in preparation for the grooviest night coming in Acadiana – Sensory Grooves: Silent Disco Prom! We look forward to celebrating our sensory and neurodivergent 14 to 18 year olds (8-12th grade) community on Saturday, April 27, 2024, at Wonderland Performing Arts. Team Sensory Grooves guarantees a night to feel accepted, understood, and celebrated.

As this is your child’s night to shine and showcase the star they are, we are encouraging comfortable formal attire. They will groove to the beats in their individualized headphones through Dohm Collective out of New Orleans. Each attendee will be in control of the volume, ensuring they can feel their best while dancing or simply sitting back and relaxing to their choice of music!

In January, our friends at BWPR and Montz Design completed the designs, event information, and Eventbrite page where a parent or guardian can request a ticket to the prom. This link will go live soon, so stay tuned and visit for additional details! We are eager to begin sharing in the excitement on social media and around Acadiana in the upcoming weeks. If you spot a post or flyer, please share it or take a picture, then blast this wonderful evening to your community. We want to make sure everyone who can attend will be there, grooving to their personalized beats.

One of our primary goals is for our children to feel celebrated by experiencing a night dedicated to those within a unique and misunderstood community. It is an evening for them to feel like royalty and shine in a friendly and safe environment. We are diligently working to find party favors and volunteers who understand the needs of those attending. Additionally, we are looking at the food we serve that evening to meet any possible dietary restrictions. And if you have ever danced so much you need to quench your thirst, then you know the importance of having light refreshments! Whether through individualized music, party favors, drinks, or snacks, we will have what is needed to cater to everyone’s needs! But that is just the start!

Upon entering, an immediate photo opportunity with a professional photographer from Lynn’s Captures Photography will make each child feel like they are on the red carpet!

And parents or guardians, we are planning for you, too! If you want to take this opportunity to have a few hours to yourself while your child is grooving, that is an option. We will also have a suite on-site dedicated to you near the prom.

Upcoming for Team Sensory Grooves is to finalize all invoices and send payments, create decorations to make the venue as magical as possible, and promote the event so we can get tickets filled and aid in growing your child’s social circle!

We are ecstatic as we continue progressing into the final stages of Sensory Grooves: Silent Disco Prom! This night will surely be an evening to celebrate the stars of our community in a safe, friendly, and accepted environment.

Acadiana Art Closet Update #2

Acadiana Art Closet Update #2

Dear Community –

Who knew that doing a project like this was going to be so people and relationship-centered? (Everyone but us probably knew it, but we finally caught up – ha!). Since we last wrote, we have been doing a lot people-ing.

We had a great Build Bash with the folks from Abby’s Acre, getting to explore their land and see all of the great stuff they have going on. Meeting some more of the team was fun, and we are very excited about our plans to collaborate this year. During that visit, we were able to co-create some building plans for the Art Closets using some incredible software that then converts this abstract idea into specific steps and processes to make the vision come to life. We are working toward three “little free library” sized Art Closets and two larger “kitchen cabinet” sized Art Closets. The Abby’s Acre folks were supportive and encouraging in helping us to get a dream into a concrete plan for wood and nails.

During that visit we were also able to get our hands dirty, helping out to build one of their fabulous bat boxes and show off our power-tool-savvy. We talked events for the future, including some really exciting things for the community to come hang out and get their (metaphorical and literal) hands dirty along with us. We couldn’t be more happy to have this collaboration going and credit it all to the 24 Hour Citizen process.

The second big update is related to our first Art Closet install. We met with the folks at J. Wallace James and planned for a location and the process for teaming up. Our first larger “kitchen cabinet” size Art Closet will be housed on the school property and will give both the J.W. James community and the surrounding neighborhood community a place to donate and access art supplies. Our team member, Missy, (who is also the full-time art teacher at J.W. James) was also able to be celebrated a bit by the school and the greater Lafayette Parish School System. The LPSS communication team stopped by and got a photo of Missy and some of her students with the giant check from the big event. The kids were blown away by the giant check – it was a big hit. This also allowed for the introduction of our design contest to the kids at J.W. James. The 4th and 5th grade art students will be invited to create a design for their Art Closet, which will then be voted on, and the winning design will be co-created by the classes on the Art Closet. The kids are thrilled to be able to leave their mark and to get their hands involved in the process. There’s a temporary art supply donation box (painted by us) in the main office of J.W. James while we await the project’s completion. We’ll keep y’all updated on this process. We’ll need you, Community, to get your vote in for the winning design, too!

We have been getting our hands into some other fun things, spreading the word about the Art Closet vision and gaining supporters. We’re excited about the new studio over at Borderless Color (@borderless_color on Instagram) and the potential for more collaboration with them. We also linked up with the folks with the Free Little Art Gallery on Roosevelt St., so we have been sharing content for one another and they were kind enough to stop by and donate some great art supplies for the Art Closet currently living on Audubon (check our social media for addresses: @AcadianaArtCloset).

The timeline for our project is very much in the “hurry up and wait” phase – so don’t let the updates pass you by. When things start happening, they are going to happen FAST. We would hate for you to get left behind and miss out on the celebration along the way. Be sure to follow us on social media, stop by the Art Closet from time to time to see what kind of supplies might spark your creativity, and we would be so appreciative of shares on social media and you talking us up in real life among your friends and family. Our hearts are still so full and we are so excited about all of the potential ahead of us – and we want you on the team, too! If you are passionate about the arts, from making it to looking at it or just advocating for the power of the arts in people’s lives, you are one of us! Let’s make magic happen for Acadiana. <3

Acadiana Art Closet Team

Abby’s Acre Update #2

Abby’s Acre Update #2

Dear Community,

What a busy quarter it’s been! We have been busy re-designing our boxes. After 2 test kits went out, we had several big design flaws surface, and we had to change the materials with which we were building. Because the boxes were made from rough cut lumber the weight was considerably heavier than we originally expected. The result was significant difficulty in installation. To mitigate this, we reduced the dimensions of several of the items as well as a redesign of what hardware we will be using. We also changed our installation method to make it easier on our volunteers.

The shop we were set up to rent has also recently moved, and our master carpenter is exceptionally busy, so our workaround has been borrowing tools and setting up in another empty shop. This has allowed us to work on boxes for free but limits what tools are available.

As of this writing, we have 4 completed (updated) kits and another big build day tomorrow. I’m expecting to have another 4 completed, with the wood processed and cut to finish the other 7 shortly after. With the materials we’ve been able to gather, we are hoping to build another 5-6 kits past the 15 promised!

Fais Doo Doo Update #2

Fais Doo Doo Update #2

Hey there, friends!

I hope you’re all wagging your tails with excitement because I’ve got some paws-itively awesome news to share about our pet waste station project!

I’m thrilled to announce that after discussions and collaboration with the city, we’ve officially got the green light to install pet waste stations on public property throughout our beloved Downtown Lafayette! Now that we have obtained necessary approval, our focus shifts to the planning phase. Over the coming months, our team will be working at marking key “hot spots” for pet waste throughout the downtown district and then, begin the installation process. We are committed to engaging with local businesses and resident pet owners throughout this process to ensure that the chosen locations align with the needs and preferences of our community members.

Our target is to have all ten pet waste stations installed and operational by the summer of 2024. While there is still much work to be done, I am confident that with your continued support, we will achieve this goal and enhance the livability of Downtown Lafayette for both residents and visitors alike.

I want to thank each and every one of you who has been a part of this journey so far. Your enthusiasm and passion are what make our community truly special. Stay tuned for further updates!

All the best,
Gabrielle Keaton of Team Fais Doo Doo

Barbers, Boys, and Books Update #1

Barbers, Boys, and Books Update #1

Dear Community,

Thank you for your support of the 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette newest program; Barbers Boys, and Books: Staying Sharp for Literacy. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the 24hr Citizen Project for providing us the opportunity to pitch the idea of placing mini-libraries in local barbershops. We are extremely grateful to the backers for their generosity in funding the initiative to increase literacy in the community.

Reading is paramount to the educational success of our kids. For students experiencing poverty, reading levels are stunningly low. Study shows that theirs a correlation between reading level and income. Higher income is linked to higher literacy. We aim to increase the literacy rate by placing a mini library in barbershops throughout the north side of Lafayette. The libraries will include age-appropriate books for elementary and middle school age kids.

We’re excited to begin installing the mini-library within the next couple of months in 15 barbershops located on the north side of Lafayette. It’s imperative that we encourage reading using various opportunities. The barbershop is a wonderful place to do so as many kids spend at least an hour waiting to get their hair cut. The barbers are equally as excited as we are to make a positive impact on the lives of these young kids. Again, thank everyone who made this possible.

Stay Sharp for Literacy!

Sensory Grooves Update #2

Sensory Grooves Update #1

Dear Groovy Community,

Thank you are two of the most simplistic words that are written in this moment filled with such sincere gratitude. Team Sensory Grooves is beyond grateful to you for opening doors and entrusting us to showcase the need for acceptance and inclusion in the Autism Spectrum Disorder and Special Education Needs community; specifically for participants 14-18 years of age. Through the generosity and dedication from our community, the Backer Team, 24 Hour Citizen Project team and Board of Directors, and all those who voted and shared the message of Team Sensory Grooves to be funded for Acadiana’s first sensory-friendly environment, silent disco prom. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to dedicate and to celebrate an evening specifically to those with autism and other sensory challenges.

Team Sensory Grooves is a team dedicated to making the dream of students from Education Destination (a specialty school in Lafayette for students with autism and various learning disabilities) that wanted to be able to attend a prom that is designed specifically for them and their peers in the special needs community of Acadiana. A special night, a special PROM, that is specifically their own. A night, a place, that even for just a few hours they do not have to mask or perform to the social norms of society. Not have to worry of being judged or taunted by those that do not understand who they truly are and the daily challenges they will forever face.

Team Sensory Grooves is composed of educators, parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, an Education Destination alumnus member from the Class of 2022, and other community leaders that have a passion to foster a community of acceptance and inclusion beginning with creating Sensory Grooves: Silent Disco Prom. A night dedicated to the stars of a unique and misunderstood community to become royalty and shine in a friendly and safe environment.

This amazing journey began on the night of November 11, 2023 during the 24 Hour Citizen Project. The Backers Team believed, supported, and funded the dream of Sensory Grooves: Silent Disco Prom. They heard the pitch and chose to entrust us to fulfill the need to make a difference in the lives of an overlooked community. The Backers Team chose Team Sensory Grooves to provide an inclusive prom to provide a safe and friendly environment for our autism and special education needs community to feel accepted, understood, and celebrated.

I am here to share that becoming funded brought about a lot of responsibilities and takes a dedicated team to make a night like Sensory Grooves happen. We are making positive steps forward to meet our goal. We knew that this prom had to happen in April of 2024 as this is Autism Acceptance month in addition to the kick- off of prom season. With this date in mind we also knew that our timeline would be tight. Entering into December we are already feeling the squeeze and it just spurs the excitement of this project that much more. We set out to immediately find a venue that would be open to such a short time frame in addition to ensuring it is an inclusive venue for our participants. After only making a few phone calls we found that there are plenty of event venues that are in our Acadiana area although not many were receptive to our budget and also the short time frame. Believing in the power of yet, we persisted and continued to call and found the perfect venue to host the inaugural evening; Wonderland Performing Arts in Lafayette. We spoke to Mrs. Allison who quickly became part of Team Sensory Grooves as she was so excited to offer the theater as the canvas to create Sensory Grooves: Silent Disco Prom where royalty will shine on April 27, 2024.

Once we had the venue and date booked it was on to search for a company to provide the wireless headphones that make a silent disco. Thanks to one of the experts that assisted us during the 24 Hour Citizen Project, DJ Digital of 107.9, we were able to locate a local business Dohm Collective, to customize the experience as unique as each of our participants.

In the upcoming two months our goal is to finalize the brand/logo to begin promotions. We are also in the process of creating short clips to post through social media of why such a need as Sensory Grooves Prom is important directly from those who dreamt it.

We know we have a lot to do in a very short amount of time. However, our team is dedicated and passionate in making this evening magical. We want and know that this is the first year but we are eager to make this an annual event. We look forward to this becoming the conversation for those 14-18 year olds to start planning at the start of the school year. Opening up a night to look forward to; to connect with old friends and make new friends. A night to share their experiences with others in our Acadiana community. Conversations being had with hopes to open minds that might have once been closed to why there is such a huge need to create environments for events specifically tailored to a unique and misunderstood community.

One day we would love to extend past just one night of prom. Our vision is to create other Sensory Grooves events specifically designed in creating a safe and friendly environment promoting acceptance and inclusiveness for the autism and special education needs community.