Students often have the mindset that they have a lifetime ahead to make a difference, so they can just relax and chase their ambitions later. Other students, however, take the opportunity to play an active role in society and make a difference right now.
Junior Mina Senthil recently created a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free art tutoring classes for children with autism called Momentum Art. “Students anywhere on the spectrum are welcome to come, but it is ultimately up to the parents to make the final decision of whether to send their children or not,” Senthil said.
Senthil came up with the idea of Momentum Art when her mother’s friend asked Sentil to tutor her autistic son in art after he was dropped by his previous art teacher. “I saw how sad he was, so I offered to start tutoring him. I saw the potential of this organization and how many students it would potentially benefit,” Senthil said.
The process of acquiring a certified nonprofit generally takes four to six weeks. Senthil expedited the process to two days. There are two steps for registering a nonprofit. “First, I had to go through the Maryland assessment and taxation form. This form is called the Articles of Incorporation for Liability Protection to approve the name Momentum Art and status. Once my organization was established, I needed to file a 501(c) 3 to get the organization to be tax-deductible,” Senthil said. “The forms are also pretty expensive, at $200 each. All the forms are just used to prove I have a charitable organization.”
Momentum Art will be a weekly program that operates in the summer. It will be group classes where high school student mentors split up one-on-one with autistic students. “Every child will have a designated mentor each time. They will be paired together every time because it is especially important for autistic children to have a routine. We will do weekly finger painting, markers, painting, portraits and more. I want them to understand art better on all mediums. The art will help improve their fine motor skills and develop communication skills through talking with mentors,” Senthil said.
So far, Senthil is the only person operating Momentum Art, but she often consults her parents and friends for advice. “My mother studies mental health at the National Institute of Health (NIH), so she helps me understand how students on the spectrum best reciprocate to certain teaching styles. My dad has a business, so he helps me file different forms for businesses,” Senthil said.
Senthil did research to understand more about autistic children. “I am currently developing a curriculum with mentors and teachers. I learned that routines and low pressure environments are very important to autistic kids. I am also trying to get Momentum Art SSL approved and into a local recreation center to have a location,” Senthil said. “Student volunteers will receive SSL hours once the organization becomes SSL approved.”
Senthil is starting to gather high school volunteers and students. At the same time, she is creating her own website for the organization to reach more people. “If anyone is interested in volunteering to be a mentor, please sign up. No expertise in art is necessary, anyone can do it. Mentors only need to be patient and kind,” Senthil said.
Students will be able to sign up to volunteer and parents will be able to register their children by the end of March when the website is up. “It’s a great SSL opportunity. Feel free to talk to me and be sure to visit http://www.momentumart.org when it is up.” Senthil said.
In addition to making a nonprofit organization, Senthil is also organizing a TedX Montgomery County Talk that will take place at this school around October or November next school year.
Back Page Editor