Center for Supported Learning adapts to reach community during pandemic

The Center for Supported Learning (CSL) were forced to adapt and think differently on how to reach their growing community because of the coronavirus. 

Their fundraising efforts and community events for the spring and summer were halted due to the global pandemic.  

“The Center is an alternative community space that focuses on developing sustainable community connections for youth and young adults with neurodiversity. The mission of CSL is to promote inclusive life-long learning activities in the Huntington, WV metro-area,” said Averi Aya-ay, CSL’s creative director. “CSL promotes this inclusivity through collaborations with community groups, local educational and arts programs, and many other organizations across Huntington and throughout West Virginia. They also focus on the research of neurodiversity. On their website, they write and share perspectives on ethical research procedures, community character and many other policy issues relevant to the center’s community outreach. The Center encourages sustainable and inclusive learning opportunities for youth and young adults with neurodiversity.”

Aya-ay had planned to have multiple art classes with their young adults that are involved with the center. This was to lead up to an art auction to serve as a fundraiser, but due to COVID-19, they had to adapt. She hopes to still have art classes virtually and have the auction when it is safe to do so. The group was still able to still fundraise through selling t-shirts to raise awareness for CSL and for neurodiversity.  

“We recently started working on a podcast for the center that will share our stories and the stories of people involved with the center. This podcast is great because it’s a safe way to stay connected to our followers even in quarantine and the high-risk individuals that are featured can record themselves from their own homes,” Aya-ay said. 

They rely on social media to stay in touch with the community and to keep spreading awareness for the center. They began by posting a series of videos across their Facebook and Instagram pages of CSL community members making various crafts and art so that their social media followers can follow along. She posts extra resources and information on neurodiversity to continue to raise awareness.  

When it is safe to host bigger community events, CSL has planned a talent showcase, a project they had been working towards before the global pandemic. They also hope to work more with local sports programs to adjust these activities for youth with disabilities and neurodiversity. 

Aya-ay hopes to plan a virtual dance marathon fundraiser in the fall and having virtual dance classes leading up to the big event. 

Abby Hanlon can be reached at [email protected]