Yes I Can students in the William S. Hart District will be producing the 10th Annual Summer Meltdown on May 4, 2013. This highly anticipated event, held in Santa Clarita, has always included top names in the music industry including; Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, Cisco Adler, Shwayze, Chris Young and Iration. This year will be no exception.
Originally designed as a means to create awareness for Autism and other Spectrum Disorders the annual Summer Meltdown is now the culmination of a year- long curriculum in social skills and social inclusion. The day long music concert provides an opportunity for marginalized students on the Autistic Spectrum to connect socially with their peers.
The importance of social interactions during the teen years cannot be underestimated. Social relationships developed through common interests provide a foundation for lifelong relationship lessons and a better quality of life.
Students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder/Asperger’s Syndrome are included with mainstream peers in the Yes I Can classes. All students are involved in lessons of disability awareness, effective communication strategies, team building opportunities and social skills instruction and practice.
With adult supervision, the student organizers, research and vote on both local and national acts to perform at the event, locate a venue, gathers sponsors, promote the event, sell tickets, set up, work and clean up the day of the concert.
“Teenagers in Santa Clarita are very focused on the arts and music, but find there are few safe venues for them to play or attend. This concert provides them with both. Local bands have the opportunity to perform alongside national acts, and it will be a safe place for all of SCV” added Lisa Lamedman, YIC Program Advisor.
The Summer Meltdown is entirely self-supported. Various fundraisers are hosted throughout the year including Food Nights at local restaurants etc. as well as generous private and corporate donations from the community who wish to support arts events for teens that promote social inclusion. Leftover funds as well as ticket and concession sales carry over into future years.
Students benefit from the execution of each step, the experience of planning a large event as well as social aspect of the concert. Socially out-casted students become the coolest students on campus. Mainstream teens vie for a limited number of spots in the Yes I Can Program every year.
The yearlong planning is almost as popular as the event, as YIC alumni return annually with professionals in the music industry to mentor students throughout the school year.
“Each year these kids work incredibly hard throughout the school year to produce this show. It’s absolutely mind-blowing what this group of kids do each year. They are amazingly talented and focused,” explains program mentor Danica Lynch. She commends the kids. “They don’t let their disorder slow them down. In fact kids have graduated from the Yes I Can program and gone on to intern in some fantastic places in the music industry.”