Updated: Apr 28, 2021
“I’m going to go grab you an XL shirt.”
Bollywood music & giggles.
Molten Cheetos and Dorito fingers.
Going on a walk with a dog and some friends.
Someone remembering my name.
Getting two hugs & getting rejected for one.
Almost crashing the food cart.
A smile and a word from a special someone.
A life changing rap.
Beyond the music and the dancing, lay these fleeting moments of kinship and warmth, enabling compassion and connection through seconds of interaction. This is what Step Up was to me.
Months in the planning, the whole Ally team worked overtime, finding sponsorships, putting together registrations and schedules, emailing special guests, stressing over technical difficulties and mishaps. But it really was worth it in the end: the vibrant performances, air of excitement and terrible jokes tied together the event in what can only be described as a day to remember.
For me personally, Step Up marked some milestones that made my day.
My little brother, Aran, and I worked the registrations table together and the experience of having him work with me was equal parts funny and tiring and altogether unforgettable. I wouldn’t trade anything for the memories of his fingers bright orange from Dorito dust and a big goofy grin on his face as we watched the performances together.
A puppy-loving friend of mine, generally shy and reserved, asked me if I would go on a walk with her around the block to walk her dog. As we and our siblings rounded the corner, she playfully demanded that we switch siblings so she could hold my hand while we walked and I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so hard as when she grabbed my hand.
The most adorable child that ever lived (who needs no introduction) ran up to me twice and gave me a big hug in exchange for a box of juice; you may call it bribery, but I call it love. (He also rejected me twice, much to my chagrin and the eternal amusement of my fellow allies, but we need not address that.)
Another friend and I sipped at our very berry juice boxes together on the sofa inside the PRAGNYA building in comfortable silence as we navigated her iPad together. As I got ready to go home, I told her I would miss her, but that I had to leave, and, in response, she let me know that she would miss me too and waved her response to my goodbye.
Finally, the performances. From bright pop song covers to Bollywood dance mash-ups to mind-numbingly beautiful instrumental pieces, every single act built off of each other to build the excitement and energy of the event.
Ultimately, our amazing Ally team pulled together yet another amazing event, and here are their highlights of the day:
"I tried to make this Step Up an amazing time for all of the neurodiverse students in attendance. I truly hope they all enjoyed it and had a fun time. My brother, being neurodiverse, also enjoyed the performances and the event a ton. It really did make his day because he doesn't usually go to major events like this, especially during this pandemic. I truly hope that I as well as all the other allies made this event memorable and amazing for everyone."
"Quoting Highschool Musical “We’re all in this together.” This aligns with the Step Up event and Pragnya’s mission as a whole — inclusivity of all our allies and neurodiverse friends. Step Up, an ally led event, was a huge accomplishment with a lot of hard work! As an Emcee I really enjoyed being there, interacting with the audience, and seeing everyone share their amazing talents. My favorite moment was when we performed our group dance with all of our neurodiverse friends! I look forward to more fun events in the future with the pragnya family :)"
"Step Up 2021 was a huge success! After a difficult year and pandemic that caused last year’s Step Up to get cancelled, I am glad this year’s event made up for it. So many of our neurodiverse peers had a blast. We saw some great performances, including marvelous singing by Riya and Sumedh. My personal favorite moment was the group dance with all the allies and our neurodiverse friends. It really showcased that Pragnya is a family. I look forward to more events like this one in the future!"
"With the StepUp event being over, I had many enjoyable moments throughout the making of the event and during the event. Something that I really enjoyed in the making of the event is how many of the allies stepped up and took initiative upon important roles. One thing that I enjoyed during the event, was when all of the kids came up towards and said what they enjoyed about the event."
"This weeks Pragnya Step Up 2021 event greatly resonated with Pragnyas meaning, a heightened sense of awareness. In this years event, the neurodiverse and neurotypical community came together to put on a talent show to showcase talents. I personally really enjoyed seeing my neurodiverse peers perform happily at the event without anyone constantly monitoring or redirecting them and finally seeing them in person. I was so happy to see all my neurodiverse friends like David, Pragnya, Hershey, Ronnel, ADarsh, and everyone all there happily eating food watching and enjoying the event and how they naturally opened up and talked and participated. I also loved Jessicas makeup on my sister it was flawless and by god sumedh, riya, and thejos singing was spectacular. I also really enjoyed playing the sitar with Atharvaa it was very fun to express our love for the sitar at the step up event. I felt joyfully at the end of the event because of how amazing the group dance turned out and how all the kids came up to us emcees as the event was ending to tell us how much fun they had and how it was an awesome event. It really touched deep in my heart and I was proud to have helped organize and emcee this event to raise funds for the Pragnya organization to continue to aculturate neurodiversity through activities for more children."
"Step Up 2021 was such an amazing event! It was wonderful to see how our idea progressed from just a thought to an event with so many registrations! It was incredible seeing the variety of talents in our Pragnya family, from Jessica’s makeup to Sumedh’s singing! I am so glad to have been apart of this years step up, and I cannot wait for the next one!"