Tomahawk Public Library to offer weekly program for neurodiverse young adults

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

TOMAHAWK – Next month, the Tomahawk Public Library will begin offering a weekly program designed to provide an opportunity for neurodiverse young adults to gather for creative arts-based activities and guided discussions.

TPL this week announced that it is partnering with Islands of Brilliance (IOB) to offer “The Fellowship” program.

According to the its website, IOB is a learning experience developed specifically for children and young adults on the autism spectrum.

“Rather than expect students to adapt to the environment, we created the ideal environment,” IOB’s website states. “IOB utilizes project-based learning that allows our students to grow their intrinsic capabilities and practice communication, increasing their likelihood of independence as adults.”

IOB said its student-focused programming is “rooted in art, design and STEaM-based curriculum.”

“Best of all, our students have a place to share their unique voice, ideas and creativity alongside peers that relate to, understand and motivate them,” the website states. “IOB wants students to have fun, be engaged, learn, grow, and most of all, feel welcomed. Many parents tell us that our programming is a highlight of the week – it’s something their child looks forward to. We get it – seeing the smiles and excitement on our students’ faces is why we love what we do.”

The Fellowship program will be offered at the Tomahawk Public Library, 300 W. Lincoln Ave., from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. each Thursday, beginning Feb. 8.

Along with Tomahawk, the Fellowship program is also offered in Wausau, Rice Lake, Eau Claire, La Crosse and Viroqua.

IOB said the Fellowship program is part of Think Ability Wisconsin, a larger statewide initiative aimed at providing community resources for people with disabilities to address issues with transition from school to the workforce.

As part of the program, autistic participants ages 16 and older gather at partner library locations once a week for one hour.

“In each session, students will work on special interest (SpIn) driven creative projects on iPads and laptops,” IOB explained. “They will also have the opportunity to connect socially with peers and grow together by building a community of mutual support.”

IOB added that sessions are guided by experienced artists and educators who have embarked on specialized training to become Brilliant Fellows.

“The Fellowship employs a research-based curriculum designed to empower youth and young adults to gain resiliency skills, advocacy skills, identity and positive social connections,” IOB stated. “Topic-based discussions will encourage participants to reflect on their unique life experiences in a supportive network of peers.”

IOB said it is “uniquely positioned to work with autistic youth and young adults,” and its learning approach “uses creativity to create connections that encourage social-emotional growth and self-confidence.”

Funding for the Fellowship program comes from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) through a grant using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to support innovative projects that will “positively impact individuals benefiting from Medicaid home and community-based services activities,” according to IOB.

To learn more about IOB, visit

Photo courtesy of the Tomahawk Public Library.
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