Local News

Cary man's art teaches empathy for those with autism

Posted August 6, 2019 6:31 a.m. EDT

A Cary man with autism carries an important message everywhere he goes with a creation that comes straight from the heart and from his imagination.

“Mupperezmo” is the leader and mascot of Imagifriends and has his own point of view.

“He turns his head upside down so that he can see things differently,” said 36-year-old D.J. Svoboda.

The colorful Imagifriends characters are now part of UNC-TV's Kindness Campaign.

They were born in Svoboda’s imagination and life experience, “based on the challenges I faced growing up with autism and disability,” he said.

Svoboda said he’s experienced unfriendly judgment from others.

“You cannot judge what you don’t understand,” he said.

The art isn't just a hobby – it’s a company.

It's all part of a message he carries across the country as a speaker at schools, churches and conferences.

“Children, teens and adults with autism and disabilities and with special needs have feelings, too, and they want to be included,” Svoboda said.

Svoboda said he's also reaching a world-wide audience with his message through social media platforms.

He and his characters also played a role in the Design Network's "Welcome Home Angel".

A family with autistic children received a renovated and redecorated home, including Svoboda's artwork.

The characters symbolize lives of purpose, value and big dreams.

“I want them to know to believe in themselves and to remember how very important and very special they are because they are,” Svoboda said.