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Artwork serves as a powerful vehicle for inclusion awareness in our community

Two weeks ago, while on my way back from taking a client to the Tennessee Department of Transportation to get her state ID, I saw something in the left lane that made me smile.

I was at a red light on Airways Boulevard when I noticed a concrete truck in the left lane. It wasn’t just any concrete truck. This massive truck pulled up with a colorful Autism awareness symbol displayed on its rotating drum.

I had to take a picture to capture it! It was a Southern Concrete Products truck. Kudos to Southern Concrete Products for literally driving the message of inclusion for individuals with Autism by displaying it on their trucks!

But the story doesn’t stop there. This morning, I saw another Southern Concrete Products truck in my neighborhood. This time, the truck had another powerful message along with compelling artwork. It showed a picture of several children holding hands with the words, “Kids Get Arthritis Too” and it also displayed the name of the Arthritis Foundation.

A Southern Concrete Products employee told me that “it’s just something our owners decided to do.” How awesome that the owners decided to use their business platforms to increase inclusion awareness! I wonder how many other businesses are doing something similar. (By the way, if you know of other local business owners who are incorporating inclusion awareness into their business model, please send me an email and let me know! My email address is

I especially love that Southern Concrete Products uses art to convey such an important message. (I’m sure that makes Jackson Arts Council Executive Director Lizzie Emmons super happy, too!) At the STAR Center, we especially know the power of art. Thanks to Ria Patel, a rising senior at Madison Academic Magnet High School, who had the vision to provide art classes for young people with Autism and other disabilities. Ria was inspired by her brother who has Autism. Ria’s Heart Art classes launched this month at the STAR Center for ages 6-18. We are so grateful to Ria and her family for the support they have provided so that youth with disabilities can receive sensory-friendly art lessons from area art instructors. The art created during the sessions will hopefully become conversation pieces around the community. If you are interested in purchasing some of the art created or hosting an art display at your business, please email

Or, if you are interested in serving as a Ria’s Heart Art class volunteer, email, call 731-668-3888 for more information.

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