Celebrating that kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder are achieving “Beyond the Label,” a recent gala at The Skirball Cultural Center recognized the children. The Wiley Center serves as well as other selfless individuals whose efforts impact their lives and raised nearly $200,000. Holly Robinson-Peete, a longtime supporter of The Wiley Center who has personally benefited from its programs, was the evening’s host. Along with legendary singer/songwriter Johnny Gill, The Honorable Jan Perry, Darrell Brown of US Bank, and George Gibbs of UPS were honored. Wiley Center President and Founder Pamela Wiley, PhD spoke about her therapeutic programs servicing kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.
Robinson-Peete introduced Dr. Wiley as “the person who gave my son a voice and changed our lives; the engineer who drives the Autism train.” Dr. Wiley took the stage, stating, “There are many faces of autism with many strengths and opportunities. We want [these kids] to transcend the label [of Autism]. It’s about understanding who you are and what your needs are. We are committed to taking these kids across the finish line.” As testament, several Wiley Center students spoke and performed on stage, some introducing the honorees.
Established 37 years ago, Dr. Wiley’s LA Speech and Language Therapy Center is the oldest African American-owned practice in Los Angeles and perhaps in the country. She opened the center to create a culture of acceptance for all children regardless race, ethnicity or zip code. Since then, she has instated numerous programs and now has the leading practice in employment readiness training for kids with ASD and other speech-related disorders.
After Wiley Center students performed “Beyond the Label” on stage, Johnny Gill told the 300 gala attendees he will be releasing that and other songs he performs with Wiley Center kids and special musical friends this year under his record label.
Danny Delgadillo, an 18-year-old Wiley Center student with ASD was awarded a surprise scholarship to go towards his college tuition at Otis College of Art & Design. Danny completed early intervention, preschool, social skills, summer camp and summer camp at LA Speech. He is a 10-year participant in their drama and social skills camps, and most recently a two-year participant in the employment readiness program. Danny’s mother first brought him to LA Speech because he was being bullied at school and had a hard time communicating with others. With intensive services, he found his passion through the arts and developed his skills and confidence. He now competes in dance competitions throughout the country and recently performed at The White House with an LA Speech group.
Honored for their unwavering support of The Wiley Center’s efforts to transcend boundaries imposed by labels were:
•The Honorable Jan Perry: 2016 Children’s Champion Award
•George Gibbs, Community Relations Manager, UPS West Region: 2016 Innovator Award
•Darrell Brown, Senior Vice President, Consumer Banking Group, U.S. Bank: 2016 Corporate Partner Award
•Johnny Gill, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter: 2016 Beyond the Label Award