This Week’s Guest
Autistic Self-Advocate, Emile Gouws, returns this week to announce the world’s first international concert to celebrate neurodiversity, Diversity is Phenomenal!, being held on May 14, 2022 online, and is sponsored by the International Council on Development and Learning (ICDL), where Emile is a Senior Advisor and also sits on the Board of Directors. Emile is a special educator, a PhD candidate, vice chairman of the National Executive Committee of Autism of South Africa, and represents underrepresented groups at the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum.
The World’s First International Concert to Celebrate Neurodiversity
The Idea Behind the Event
April was Autism Awareness and Acceptance month. Emile expressed his observations with his colleagues at EDU 360, which is a specialist group in South Africa that teaches students on the autism spectrum and accommodates the different neurodiversities. The campaigns haven’t been achieving enough and what is needed is something more meaningful and impactful that will help create mass awareness throughout the world while celebrating the unique talents of neurodivergent individuals, Emile explains.
The Event: Diversity is Phenomenal!
Diversity is Phenomenal! brings talent from South Africa and internationally to attract attention, open minds, and pave the way for a more inclusive and accessible society. The variety show will run for two hours virtually online. It starts at 7:00 PM UTC +2 (South African time), which is 1:00 PM Eastern time (NY, Toronto). One of the artists is a violinist who will play from his bunker in Ukraine. They pre-recorded a performance with him just in case there is a disruption. The entire show will also be recorded for re-viewing.
There are three types of tickets you can purchase, priced in South African RAND, which is the currency. The first ticket is the standard ticket for 255 ZAR, which is about $15 USD. You only need this ticket for the whole family to watch the show. The second ticket is the premium show ticket, which costs about $22 USD and comes with a souvenir show programme. The third ticket for about $31 USD includes the programme as well as a thank you Director’s Cut video from the organizers, sponsors, and Emile. You can also contribute a voluntary donation.
The purpose of this concert or this initiative is designed to benefit the viewing audience on the night making a meaningful impact to communities on the ground, directly benefitting students and young adults with a variety of neurodiverse presentations and creating a culture of acceptance of our unique differences. The acts all have a special connection to neurodiversity.
Emile shares that one of the performers is South African pop star, Jakkie Louw, along with Afrikans music legend, Anton Goosen, guitar player Zayne from Blue on the Spectrum, American autistic hip hop artist, Marcus Boyd, a prodigy from Holland’s Got Talent, Amira Willighagen, who won at age 9 in 2013, a ballroom dancer, a comedian, a magician, and many more! Students from the Rebecca School in Manhattan will also perform! Every act has a special connection to neurodiversity which will make it more meaningful and impactful.
EDU 360 fund to support neurodivergent students’ education and equipment to support their education needs. Neurodivergent students require specialist education and accommodation, Emile says. There are so many ways people’s brains work and there is no correct way, he continues. All the funds will accommodate these students with autism, dyslexia, ADHD, etc.
Emile is just about done his doctoral degree and it’s very important to him because it demonstrates the potential of someone who is not neurotypical, he says. In his PhD Thesis he elaborates on the different types of neurodiversities and how public educational institutions accommodate these neurodiversities, highlighting masculinity, ableism, and whiteness as well, and also takes a historical perspective.
Emile would like to thank ICDL and EDU 360 for making this dream become a reality. It only took one person to say ‘yes’ to Emile’s idea, so he is thrilled this event will take place. It’s about celebrating the abilities of every individual. The aim of this concert was to unite everyone. Wherever you are, and whatever your difference is, Emile says, you should be accommodated. Each person is one part of this big umbrella called neurodiversity, he says.
The beautiful tree logo representing the globe was created by Colombian artist, Lauren Iglesias.
This week’s PRACTICE TIP:
Sign up or make a donation for next weekend’s event HERE and tell everyone you know to attend! Spread the word across your social media circles!
Purchase a single ticket, or the premium ticket to receive a souvenir programme, or the premium deluxe ticket to receive the souvenir programme and the director’s cut thank you message and thank you messages from the sponsors. You can determine the exchange rate from South African Rand (ZAR) to US Dollars at xe.com.
Thank you to Emile for not only having the idea for this event and making it happen, but for describing it to us and sharing his excitement for the event with a rundown of the guests who will perform. I hope that you will attend and will share it on Facebook or Twitter and feel free to share excitement, questions, or comments in the Comments section below.
Until next time, here’s to choosing play and experiencing joy everyday!