SUITLAND, Md. (WDVM) — Saturday is World Autism Awareness Day, and a DMV-based art group is spreading awareness in a creative way.

Children and their families left Creative Suitland not only with their colorful butterfly paintings but also left with a better understanding of autism. It was all hosted by Artbae (Art before anything else), an arts, entertainment, and education-based lifestyle brand with a passion for advocacy.

“My favorite part about today’s event was painting the butterfly and putting my quote on there which is love is love because it really spoke to me,” said participant Angelina Bryant.

“My favorite part of the day was learning about autism too, and painting the butterfly,” said participant Joshua Bryant.

Cary Michael Robinson created Artbae in 2018. His class today was focused on bringing the community together with a paintbrush and canvas.

“I want them to feel like they matter feel like they are important and want them to have something that they create that they can take with them and be proud of them,” said Robinson. “I know the importance of how art can be therapy. I have the privilege to work with different kids who were challenged and had autism. Their parents were just so thankful that they were able to find the activity that helped the children kind of cope with it.”

Many guests even left with a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“I learned that it’s nothing wrong with autistic people they just have a special power,” said participant Neveah Bryant.

There was also a special character dressed as a butterfly, Robinson calls it Sethemba. He created the character since the name represents hope in Zulu. Sethemba walked around the event helping kids paint and passing out books.

“It just brings me joy to my heart that knowing that me doing something that I’m passionate about has the ability to help someone in a positive way,” said Robinson.

In honor of International Children’s Book Day, kids were given free books and school supplies donated from the community.

“Giving kids books and just giving them a different activity outside of technology gives them the ability to kind of inspire them,” said Robinson. “Kids want to feel valued out know the kids need positive outlets outside of sports and things like that, to express themselves because art is expression.”