Gena Sims has many talents. She is a writer, singer, director, dancer, actor, entrepreneur, educator, advocate, and she is dedicated to community service. All these aspects of Gena are evident in her work. I was pleased to be a member of the audience when Gena performed in her play, “In the Life of a Child”. The play engaged me and touched my heart. The play shows us the inner voice and struggles of a child with autism, as well as giving flashbacks that provide an insight into the child’s mother, who receives the diagnosis and wonders what the future will be for her child. We hear the inner voice of the child both in dialogue and song. We see the way her peers react to her, and we see her dreams of how she wishes that they would reach out to her and accept her.
Gena has also created and operated an afterschool program which helps children with autism and non-autistic children. She guides them to interact with each other and play with each other, to learn how to adapt to, communicate with, and understand each other.
Gena has created a channel on YouTube, where she posts a series of vignettes around autism, depicting the struggles and adventures of people with autism, and their parents and friends. You can look for it under the title, The Autism Theater Project. These vignettes are engaging and entertaining, a great vehicle for adults and children to learn more about autism in short, relevant episodes.
Having experienced “The Voice Inside” [webseries on YouTube], I became even more conscious that we are all somewhere on the spectrums of self-awareness, with varying abilities and skills of communication. We are all on a journey to understand ourselves, and to be understood, loved and accepted by others.”
Working with Gena Sims for the Autism Theater Project has helped me understand the beauty of the arts when we combine the passion of creators of all differing abilities. The Autism Theater Project has been able to educate and support the community around it little by little and has much potential to cause great change on a larger scale in the future! I cannot wait to see what is in store for this organization.
“My name is Olivia Nguyen and I am 27 years old. I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 6. I decided to join the Autism Theatre Project to help bring joy to others and bring awareness to others around. We are currently working on a webseries called “The Voice Inside” which is about a character named Matt, who is also on spectrum. I am very excited to work on this project, because I can relate to the character Matt as he goes through his journey and overcomes his obstacles. What I hope teens will learn from our webseries is that everyone is different and we can learn from eachother’s experiences in life.”
“What excites me [about ‘The Voice Inside’] is the collaboration of different artists to tell a uniquely autistic story! As a playwright on the spectrum from Canada, I love that we all can bring something to the table, even though we are from different parts of the world and are different.”
I began working with the Autism Theater Project remotely from Maryland in September and my experience has been extremely enlightening. I was inspired to volunteer with ATP because it presented an opportunity for me to fuse my passion for business and economics with advocacy for communities different from my own. Through participating in the production and advertising of educational and relatable videos for students and teachers, I have gained a deeper understanding of the different ways that people deal with life’s various challenges. Helping to expand our outreach has encouraged me to appreciate the perspectives of others to better understand how people from diverse backgrounds relate to different types of content. I have also had the chance to work and connect with highschool students across the country. I am most excited for the opportunity to broadcast the ATP’s original productions and content in high schools around the country, allowing people to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of others.
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