By Jane Hong | Science and Society Concentrator | ASaP TA
This summer, I finally got to be a part of The Miracle Project (TMP) in New England. TMP is a musical theater program based in Los Angeles for students on the autism spectrum.
I had been introduced to the program through ASaP as a freshmen. My passion for the arts and children with special needs immediately latched onto the program’s core principle that “We are All Miracles”. I vicariously followed the program through books, research articles and even seminars with the founder, Elaine Hall.
As the camp began, I was immensely excited to meet the ten students who had signed up. What kind of miracles would be walking through our doors? But at the same time, I was nervous. Would I be able to connect with these students who all communicated with the world in such different ways?
On the first day, some campers greeted me with an enthusiastic smile while some didn’t look at my face but said “hi” distantly. While it took some time for me to figure out the best way to greet each camper, the rest of the camp flew by in a literal blur. We danced to new songs across the floor and played theater games while our amazing on-site aide ran around the room creating visual cue cards and handing out pillows to ensure all the campers felt comfortable and safe.
While I had known a lot about the program itself, I realized I hadn't considered how it would make me feel. I was surprised to see how much energy it took to truly “be in the moment” with the campers and staff at all times. No matter how much I slept or how much coffee I drank, I seemed to be struggling to keep my eyes open on the car ride home. But as a I closed my eyes, I would remember everything that I had experienced by being in the moment. I had witnessed a beautiful piano performance by a camper who had a difficult time conversing with others; a friendship forming between two shy campers; and the connections the campers were making with each other and the staff. This was the beauty of being in the moment. Everything I had done, the campers would always do more for me. They even helped me confirm that I had chosen the right path for my studies and profession: I am the happiest when I am working at the intersection of art and medicine.