Students and staff from Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School created an Autism Awareness Puzzle Display to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day, which falls on April 2nd

Mr. Ponte, Life Skills Teacher at Notre Dame, wanted to find a way to bring autism awareness to the forefront of the school. He decided that he wanted to create a custom puzzle art piece, a symbol for Autism Awareness, to be displayed in the school.  

“I wanted the puzzle to show that every individual here at Notre Dame is a part of the fabric of the school, and having different puzzle pieces locked together shows both individuals, and how they fit in as part of the school community,” said Mr. Ponte.

Mr. Ponte sought help from Construction Teacher, Mr. Nason to bring his vision to life. The puzzle display was designed by Grade 12 student, Theo Simon. With assistance from Mr. Bozzelli, Theo used his design skills to draw 6 interlocking puzzle pieces on the Inventor computer software before cutting the puzzle pieces using a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine. 

Students were then asked to hand paint the blank puzzle pieces with pictures and designs that were meaningful to them. 

Of the 112 puzzle pieces painted, the centre puzzle piece was left blank. 

Mr. Nason described the unfinished puzzle piece as “a message that the work is unfinished, and that there is a space for everybody here at Notre Dame.” 

This piece of art has special meaning for Theo, who has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Theo’s talents and gifts for computer design have contributed to many initiatives at Notre Dame, including the Electric Car project, and now the Autism Awareness Puzzle Display.

Thank you to the entire Notre Dame community for your commitment to inclusivity and belonging!

Watch the unveiling of the Puzzle Piece Display here.