Annual autism gathering looking for community support

‘It is our hope that with community awareness will result in each person with ASD feeling accepted and valued for their unique personalities and gifts.’

There will be an interactive community walk in 100 Mile for autism month on April 25 – starting at the 100 Mile Community Hall and finishing at the elementary school’s playground. The idea is to walk down Birch Avenue while handing out flyers and information pamphlets on autism, according to organizer Krysta Stewart.

Around the world, April is recognized as Autism Month.

The colour blue is illuminated on many famous landmarks, flashed on storefronts and worn proudly. Approximately one in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Canada. According to Autism Speaks Canada, this statistic is continuing to grow.

Stewart decided to organize another event this year for Autism Month because last year’s picnic to raise awareness did so well. Stewart said she is looking to branch out to the schools, local businesses and organizations for participation.

“I know there is already a lot of support and awareness, but when I moved here, I realized there was no community event around autism awareness,” she says.

Stewart runs an Autism program out of her ranch in Lone Butte – Blue Sky’s Autism Service.

“Before I left the Okanagan, my girlfriend and I decided to open our own in-home centre,” she says. “It blew out of proportion. Everybody was interested in putting their kids in a home environment where they were getting their early intervention needs met, outside of a clinical environment. When I moved out here (the Cariboo) I went around and introduced myself to professionals in town – my program started with one family and grew to 12 in two years.”

Stewart says it’s important to have events like this, purposely to raise awareness.

“There are a lot of children who show their way of communicating in a way that some people might not understand,” she said. “They can be very vocal and this draws attention to them and their parents – often making the parent uncomfortable. People don’t necessarily always know how to interact, but raising awareness can make a difference.”

The community walk will be on April 25. from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

“It is our hope that with community awareness will result in each person with ASD feeling accepted and valued for their unique personalities and gifts.”

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