Art Aviators is an education initiative designed by MOCA Jacksonville especially for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Created in 2007, this unique program and its proven results have been nationally recognized by Congress, museum associations, and healthcare providers. Utilizing three educational components — an art studio, galleries, and a hands-on learning area — Art Aviators harness art-making activities to promote expression and social interaction among children with ASD and their teachers, caregivers, and peers.
The paper airplane flyer delivers information for adults and kids. One side, for grown-ups, outlines the basic Art Aviators curriculum and how to get further information on the program. The other side, for kids, features activities to create awareness about autism and instructions for making a special paper airplane using the die-cut fold lines.
In preparation to introduce this well-researched program curriculum to other museums, the Museum designed a binder that includes lesson plans; a book explaining best practices; guides on hiring personnel, raising funds, and evaluating results; digital resources; and marketing tools, such as a video, fliers, and advertisements. Sturdy enough to withstand real-time use in class, the guide’s flexible format allows different museum staff members to use various components simultaneously.
Art Aviators uses the metaphor of flight to help explain the program. Each component reinforces the idea that students are the pilots, with the power to select their own art-making destinations each day. Through these activities, students can break away from routine and safely reach for new heights. The sky represents the autism spectrum, with space for pilots of every ability to soar. Teachers and adult helpers act as the air traffic crew to offer pilots a smooth and enjoyable ride. They craft innovative art destinations, provide a safe passage through stormy weather, and guide pilots through individual itineraries. Sponsors are the propellers that rule these journeys.
Special care was given to the design of the lesson plans, which feature activity instructions delineated by age group. Icons in the upper right corner indicate targeted therapeutic outcomes for a particular lesson including social, emotional, cognitive, communication, and sensory/motor. Sidebar sections like materials, pre-preparations, and tips offer helpful information for instructors. Photography of in-class activities helps provide a visual reference for how activities may be completed. Clear diagrams are available for items that must be produced ahead of time.
After viewing the new look and materials, The Boeing Company decided to sponsor Art Aviators. The curriculum binder and paper airplane flyer for Art Aviators was a top ten finalist for the 2014 Sappi Ideas that Matter grant program.