Art, poetry, music and prizes at four-day event in Cliftonville in memory of teenager Stefan Kluibenschadl

Stefan was kind, funny and talented

A four-day art exhibition and a live music and poetry night raising money to provide creative, therapeutic services for neurodivergent young people in Thanet kicks off on May 3.

The event has been organised by Emma and Tristan Kluibenschadl in memory of their son Stefan who was just 15 when his life ended after health services failed to provide appropriate help as he struggled with increasing low moods and anxiety.

On May 6, Stefan, who was diagnosed with high functioning autism, would have turned 18 and Emma and Tristan are marking the day with the Stefan’s Acts of Kindness Fund [STAK] event at Ark Cliftonville.

From May 3 to May 6 there will be an art exhibition and sale with more than 100 works that have been donated by artists including Anthony Giles, Margo in Margate, Lisa illustrator, Louise Hynes, Hayden Kays, Angela Malone, Shane McCoubrey, Sian Catherine Morgan, Stephen Beech and many more, as well as ceramics by Kate Malone MBE, Yvette Warner, Jo Langthorne. Glasswear by Cloverdale Glass and sculptures by Luke Mockeridge, and Karen Cronin.

The exhibition will be open 11am to 5pm on Friday and Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. It is free to enter.

There are more than 40 raffle prizes on offer with tickets for sale at the event over the 4 days.

Sealed bids are invited for prizes including a Tottenham Hotspur shirt, a three day break in Suffolk and Barretts Landrover experience.

Donations include a number of items from The Libertines, including signed song lyrics and a framed edition of the latest album All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade.

Artist Stephen Beech will also attend the event to draw portraits for £10.

On Sunday, May 5 there is a ticketed event with live music via artists from Watermelon Media, poetry and a sale and bar. The event runs from 7pm-10pm. Tickets are £10 and there are just a handful left.

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All profit raised from the events will be used to provide the therapeutic services and also deliver training on Autism and mental health, to raise greater awareness and understanding.

Stefan and mum Emma

After Stefan was diagnosed at the age of six, Emma and Tristan undertook a lengthy battle with the Kent local authority to secure a statutory Education and Health Care Plan (ECHP). He was subsequently also diagnosed with severe dyslexia.

Stefan attended Laleham Gap but he became disillusioned with school during the pandemic and the one-to-one support he was receiving was reduced to remote contact.

In 2020, Stefan started working at the weekends and during holidays. Sadly he resigned after telling his parents and his school that there had been problems after it was discovered that he attended a Special Educational Needs school and  he had autism.

Despite Stefan’s parents and GP trying to secure support as the youngster struggled with low moods and anxiety, Kent & Medway Integrated Care Board (formerly CCG), failed to provide this and in March 2022, Stefan tragically died.

Emma said: “Stefan was a really kind and thoughtful boy who loved skateboarding, archery, rock music and cooking. He was always really kind from a young child. He would give his lunch away to people on the street, who didn’t have anything. He would support all the children at school, who were wandering around on their own, and play football with them.

“ (Stefan’s Acts of Kindness), emerged after many parents contacted us after Stefan died to share their stories of how Stefan had been kind and caring to their children at school and helped them feel noticed and seen, when they felt lonely and sad.

“So, we decided that we would continue Stefan’s legacy for kind acts.”

The  CIC (community interest company) is to have four trading parts, one will be fundraising and events, then training for professionals, parents and businesses on Autism and Mental Health, also awareness raising and talks on neurodiversity and neuro -affirming practices and then workshops and groups that provide creative, therapeutic support for neurodivergent young people and those people experiencing grief and loss in Thanet.

The couple continue to campaign for change and improvement in services for neurodivergent people in Kent and Medway and beyond, in honour of Stefan.

ARK Cliftonville Cultural Space is based at the former synagogue in Albion Road.

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