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Ulani uses music to support autism community connection

9 September, 2021

UWA Music Studies student Ulani Ho has harnessed her passion for music to help people on the autism spectrum feel more connected to their communities through a McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship.

Ulani’s 100-hour internship was based at Spectrum Space, formerly Autism West, a not-for-profit based in Fremantle that aims to support and empower people on the autism spectrum.

Ulani researched, prepared and carried out a range of music-based activities for Spectrum Space’s various social groups to help participants feel more connected to their local community.

“The most rewarding aspect of this internship was collaborating with social group participants and discussing ideas for activities with them. Their whole expression really lights up when they talk about their experiences with music,” said Ulani.

Ulani used her learnings from Spectrum Space participants to develop a comprehensive term-long plan of exploratory music-based activities for each of Spectrum Space's social groups, which will continue to help participants grow and explore through music.

The Spectrum Space team said Ulani was a “valued member” of their community and her work aligned with the strengths-based approach to their services.

“Ulani identified that music was a shared interest across much of the community and was proactive in consulting with the community to gather information on their preferences. Ulani also differentiated the materials for the different ages,” said Spectrum Space CEO, Louise Sheehy.

Ulani says the internship experience has impacted her perception of her ability to make a positive change in the community.

“This internship has helped me learn that any individual has the power to make a better change in the world and in the lives of others. It had never occurred to me that an idea could develop into something concrete that could impact others in a beneficial way,” said Ulani.

Ulani plans to continue volunteering with Spectrum Space to revise and expand on her work in the music program, with hopes to expand the program to other local communities and not-for-profit organisations such as Headspace.

Ulani encourages other students to take part in the internship program and volunteer in their local communities, especially if they have an idea to create change.

“It is such an exciting journey when you know you are actively engaged in shaping the world for the better,” said Ulani.