An Eagle Scout project being unveiled this weekend uses art to increase awareness about autism.
Henry Pluta, a member of Scout Troop 189 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Carlisle, said the project was created to promote what an autism school and other local organizations are doing to assist those with special needs.
He asked local artists to create pieces that reflect the core values of Merakey Autism and Education School — trust, compassion, quality, diversity, integrity and safety. The donated pieces will be on display at an art show alongside works of art created by the students.
The art show will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Merakey Autism and Education School, 898 Waggoners Gap Road, Carlisle.
Pluta is the son of Theodore J. Pluta II and Polly Pluta of Carlisle.
Q. What drew you to organizing an art show for an Eagle Scout project?
A. I wanted to do something very different from the normal projects of building for an Eagle Scout project. When I was 10 years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of autism. Asperger’s can sometimes cause difficulty in social interactions, expressing and understanding social cues, anxiety and organization. When I was in sixth grade, I started going to CALC’s (Carlisle Arts Learning Center) after school program. Through the art program at CALC, I learned how to interact with other people through my expression of art.
Art has become a very big part of my life. Now, as I continue art classes through high school, I am trying to use my art to explain different concepts of people’s inner feelings and thoughts without words. I chose Merakey Autism and Education School because the school is tied into my community. They do so much to help kids with autism blend into regular school and society. They help build confidence in their students. I am going to take the donated art through my art show and decorate the halls of the school with art. I want to help make the school more welcoming and have art that the students can relate to and hopefully inspire them to be creative.
Q. Why did you decide to focus on autism awareness?
A. Asperger’s is a part of me and it makes me who I am. I am proud of who I am and who I am becoming. Bringing autism awareness to the community will hopefully bring out all the positives to autism. Sometimes society sees a lot of the negatives of disabilities, and there is more to people than what meets the eye.
Q. How did you bring the show together?
A. I met with Delilah Wilcox to learn more about the Merakey Autism School. I toured the school and proposed my Eagle Scout project, and she was excited to be part of my project. I asked Cathy Stone from CALC to help me organize my thoughts and ideas of how to organize an art show. Ms. Cathy helped me by contacting local artists to either donate or show pieces of art for the art show. Local artists will choose to have their art donated and hung at Merakey Autism School. Another aspect of the art show is to help bring awareness of autism to the Carlisle community. Ms. Delilah helped me get contacts of local agencies that support and educate on autism. Many agencies will be present and or have information available on services that support autism and other related disabilities.
Q. What has been the most important lesson you have learned through this project?
A. The most important lesson I have learned through this project is communication. I have learned to communicate on different levels. I am learning how to write to professionals, through my poster, my requests for donations, and emails. I have learned confidence in communication when I have to approach people and ask for donations or ask them to participate in my art show. I have learned to talk professionally on the telephone. I have learned and am learning how to organize my thoughts on paper before I attempt to talk to people who I don’t know. I have learned to make the best situation out of some of my mistakes.
Q. How has what you have learned in Scouting affected your approach to life?
A. Scouting has not only thrown me out in the middle of the woods and taught me to survive, but most importantly it has shown me leadership skills and gave me exposures to experiences that I would not have gotten without Scouting. I participated in many merit badges and learned many skills that I will use throughout my life. It has given me opportunities to assist people and the community.