One of the perks of working at TAPA is that you often get to witness incredible moments and hear students say remarkable things. It was no exception when 12 –year-old Riley Walsh described her best friend and fellow TAPA student, Amanda Van Arken, age 21. “We’re best friends and she tells me loves me with her heart.” Amanda and Riley have been fast friends since they started attending the Saturday Respite Program at TAPA over a year ago. Although Amanda is non-verbal, she smiles and laughs when she sees Riley and Riley returns the love by helping Amanda in music and art classes. “I cut her paper in art. I help her use sparkles.” Riley said that Amanda is her best friend because Amanda is so nice!
On Wednesday nights, the art room has been full of great stories and beautiful art since TAPA opened. Dan Makar and Charles Brennan have been good friends for years. The adult art students, or “Art Boys”, talk about their Friday ritual of going out to lunch and even bring their own CDs to class to play as they create sculptures, paintings, and drawings. “He’s my best friend forever because we know each other a long time,” Charles starts. “I met him in a group home,” Dan finishes his friend’s sentence. “No! School. Way back.” Charles replies. The two were roommates years ago in a group home before they moved to a new house and now have rooms next to each other. The young 39 and 41 year old duo watch DVD’s, practice the Anchor Dance, and love to spend time just “hanging out”. According to Dan, “He’s my best friend in the end”.