A Mission. The journey.
Daniel John “DJ” Svoboda was born in 1983 in South Carolina, and at the tender the age of 3, DJ was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, along with psychomotor retardation. Early on, this combination created things such as speech delays and motor skills issues. Doctors were not exactly sure what the future would hold for DJ and his family, outside of the demanding trials and tribulations of a child with special needs. As he got older, DJ didn't grow, develop and mature like other kids. It was even difficult for DJ to do simple tasks, such as hold a pencil. He moved, entered school, and as the years went by, DJ was taunted, teased, made fun of and bullied.
A mission was born. The journey had begun.
DJ’s Story - “Look at and see things from a different point of view”!
Daniel John "D.J." Svoboda
Autistic Artist & Motivational Speaker
Actually, while DJ does have a “story” to tell, he is on a mission. A journey. One that has had its share of ups and downs. And as all journey’s do, there is a story that put it all in motion. A story that is not only intriguing, but inspiring. He and his mother Cindi make a wonderful team (read Cindi's Story here), and along with the Mupperezmo and the Imagifriends of Imagiville, their mission is simple: work tirelessly to put an end to bullying and make sure that everyone, everywhere, is accepted for who they are.
Mupp, Imagiville and the Imagifriends.
As you can imagine, growing up for DJ was not much fun. He was constantly teased and bullied, so much so that he needed to find a place where he was accepted for who he is, a place where everyone accepted each other for who they are.
Teasing. Bullying. The negative experiences didn’t stop DJ. In fact, they had just the opposite affect – they inspired DJ to create a wonderful world, a new land. A safe place in his imagination where everyone is treated kindly and accepted just the way they are.
A place called ...
A Mission is born.
Imagiville is a place of peace and happiness, a place where everybody is welcome, and the unique diverse qualities of each and every Imagifriend is cherished and celebrated. To date, DJ has created and brought to life more than 3,000 Imagifriends! Yes, you read that right – 3,000!
The Mission all started with the Mupperezmo, the ever present and fearless leader of Imagiville. Affectionately known as “Mupp”, the Mupperezmo is a dragon-like character who turns his head upside-down to see the world from a different point of view. Imagifriends like Lucia the Flying Cow, Sleepy Time Friend, Bathtime Friend and others join Mupp, and along with DJ and his mom Cindi, work every day to make sure everyone is accepted for who they are, and what only they can bring to the world in their own, unique way. Together they have accomplished so much, helping countless others with special needs and their families. And there is still so much to do. So many people to reach.
Today, at 37, DJ is a dynamic motivational public speaker, an accomplished artist and author with three books to his credit: My Imagiville, The Mupperezmo and the Rainbow, and The Inspirations of Imagiville. The characters were are DJ original's, and he wrote and illustrated each book telling a specific story of acceptance and awareness.
He and his mom Cindi travel throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, attending autism and special needs conferences and events, speaking to schools, groups and churches as well as attending many fundraising events.
Through his art and public speaking, he brings Imagiville and The Imagifriends to life, using them as a vehicle to spread a message of hope, of inspiration and awareness, that those with autism and special needs are fine just the way they are.
DJ’s artwork, both his prints and commissioned artwork, have been featured in numerous publications such as Autism Spectrum, Autism Digest, Autism Perspective and Australian Parent’s Child to name just a few. Imagifriend artwork is also featured in museums, graces the walls of corporations, organizations and in private homes, and is featured in the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. The Autism Society of America selected DJ’s Mupperezmo (Mupp) character to be the featured image on their “Puzzle Project.”
DJ is an Advocate for the North Carolina Autism Society, has been nominated for the Naturally Autistic ANCA Visual Arts Award and has been interviewed on numerous Radio and Television shows.
If you'd like to have DJ speak at your program, event, conference or school, please Click here.