The Artist

Meredith Ewen ’19 makes the artistic experience more inclusive for students with special needs—starting with imagination and some squishy paint.

Meredith Ewen ’19 is making art a sensory experience for students with autism and special needs. (Photo by Scott Cook) Meredith Ewen ’19 is making art a sensory experience for students with autism and special needs. (Photo by Scott Cook)

For Meredith Ewen ’19, service runs in the family. In fact, Ewen recalls volunteering alongside her father when she was in the third grade, and her grandmother once started her own service organization. Today, Ewen is honoring her family’s tradition by serving as art program director at Opportunity, Community, Ability (OCA), an Orlando nonprofit that serves children with autism and special needs. She is hoping to formalize the role so that future Rollins students can carry it forward.

Textured Takeaway
“We were exploring ideas in art, and we wanted to make art a sensory experience for the students at OCA. We made a gooey, squishy oatmeal-based paint. The students then created little paintings. Using that gooey paint is a way to get them used to different textures—an important [sensory] issue for the students.”

Sustainable Service
“For the near future, I want to design a way to make the art program director position sustainable after I leave, so I’m hoping to set up an ongoing internship position at OCA. I would want to make it accountable and measurable.”

Arts for All
“Ideally, I would like to help make all art more inclusive to those who are in wheelchairs or have other special needs. We should have 3-D topographical art for people with sight impairments to touch. People with hearing impairments can have their needs met for access to art. We should create a conversation about art that includes as many people as possible.”

Find Your Passion
“Service is not limited to your major field of study. Just jump in. Find something you are passionate about. When you do that, your entire world can be transformed. It can give you a reason for being. It’s not just about you. It’s about how you use your education to make an impact elsewhere.”

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(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

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(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

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(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

The Teacher and the Student

There’s a learning process to serving, and teacher’s assistant Abigail Goecker ’17 says connecting with youngsters is a two-way street.
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