Sherman Oaks, California (PRWEB) June 25, 2013
Calling him an inspiration and a “tireless champion” of the autism cause, the staff and students of Exceptional Minds digital arts academy for young adults with autism bestowed their highest honor – the first-ever 'Ed Asner Exceptional Minds Award’ – to actor Ed Asner himself during the June 21 grand opening of Exceptional Minds’ new, spacious educational studios in Sherman Oaks, California.
“Undeserved as it is, I am honored to receive this and to be a part of Exceptional Minds,” Asner said to the crowd during the open house, but not before entertaining them with jokes. “What kind of introduction is this?” he called out earlier to Exceptional Minds’ Program Director Ernie Merlan from his seat amid the large gathering of friends and supporters there to celebrate a major milestone in the Exceptional Minds phenomenon.
Asner joined the Exceptional Minds advisory board early in the school’s inception to help young people on the spectrum bridge the gap between high school and meaningful careers. Started in a small office space with a handful of students two years ago, Exceptional Minds digital arts academy opened the doors on Friday to a new, high-tech facility for preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in movie post-production, animation and digital graphics.
Exceptional Minds offers a full-time, three-year vocational program as well as private tutoring and summer workshops for young people with autism. Its new facility marks the start of an ambitious, three-phase expansion that includes larger classrooms and a new working studio for Exceptional Minds graduates. The new 3,700 square-foot facility doubles the school’s previous student population with three new classrooms, each with new computer workstations for 10 students; a blue-screen room for Chroma keying; a theatrical lighting and staging room; a personal project studio plus web-design room; and a new working studio for Exceptional Minds graduates to begin contract work for companies and movie studios.
Asner, who has a son and grandson with autism, has helped raise autism awareness and has been involved in Exceptional Minds since the school was formed in 2011. “Ed is a friend and inspiration to all of us at Exceptional Minds, not only because of all that he has done in his career, but because he is tireless when it comes to his commitment to Exceptional Minds. He is our hero, our friend, our inspiration,” said Merlan, adding that he hopes to be able to one day earn the Ed Asner Exceptional Minds award, which will become an annual Exceptional Minds traditional.
The Exceptional Minds students prepared an animated tribute to Asner and presented it to him during the open house.
About Exceptional Minds (http://www.exceptionalmindsstudio.org):
Exceptional Minds is a non-profit vocational center and working production studio for young adults on the autism spectrum. Chartered in 2011 to provide the training necessary for creatively-gifted individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) who may not otherwise be able to make the transition from high school to careers, Exceptional Minds offers technical proficiency and work readiness training that prepares students for careers in graphic arts, animation, web design, visual effects and rotoscoping. Located in Sherman Oaks, California, Exceptional Minds is both an instructional learning facility and a working studio with hands-on student involvement in production projects, many for the film industry.