|A Cappella Concert Will Benefit Children and Families Coping with Autism
November 11, 2009
Contact: Bill Giduz
A Davidson student devoted to helping children with autism has organized a benefit concert to help them even more, with the help of three of Davidson's a cappella groups.
Billy Powers, a senior from Darien, Conn., has worked with special needs children steadily since seventh grade. At Davidson he has created a new community service organization and rallied about a dozen fellow students to join and commit to regularly mentoring special needs children at Davidson Elementary School.
Now Powers is taking another step by organizing a concert with Davidson's three student a cappella ensembles on Sunday evening, Nov. 15, to raise money to help local autistic children. The concert will celebrate the gifts that children with special needs can offer the community, and will inform others about the challenges these children face.
There is no charge to attend the event, which begins at 5 p.m. in Duke Family Performance Hall, but donations will be accepted. To reserve a seat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If tickets remain on the evening of the concert, they will be available at the door.
Powers is president of The Generals, an all-male group that will perform. The other performers are the all-female Delilahs and the mixed gender ensemble, Androgyny. Powers said, "Parents of exceptional children are often faced with tremendous obstacles to overcome and few options. We hope the proceeds of the concert will provide opportunities for their children, at no cost, to enroll in programs and services to help them reach further."
Powers created his community service organization, The Buddy System, last year. Members now visit one-on-one with special needs children each Tuesday after school for at least an hour. They coordinate their activities with PTA Too, an organization for parents of special needs children.
During their Tuesday afternoon sessions, Davidson students and their buddies move through several stations, where activities include arts and crafts, board games and sing-a-longs. "Parents of kids with special needs will tell you their social needs aren't always being met," said Powers. "So we strive to give them a positive social experience. Kids with autism are extremely bright in many cases, but have difficulty connecting socially with their peers in appropriate ways. But if they work on it they can get better. Our goal is to give them positive social interactions they can build upon."
Powers organized a similar community service group at his high school in Connecticut, and has worked at a school for severely autistic children. He noted that it is important for autistic children to work with the same group of student buddies each session. "This is not a one-time volunteer opportunity. Our volunteers are committed to it and have done a great job." Powers said.
Powers obtained funds to stage the concert and host a post-concert banquet for children and their parents last semester through the "Improve Davidson Fund," an endowment that benefits worthy endeavors at the college. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Autism Foundation of the Carolinas, which will direct them toward programs and services for children in the local area.
Information on donating to the cause can be found at www.davidsongenerals.com.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,800 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.