Walking for Autism

  People from across Southern York congregated at the Shrewsbury YMCA on April 27 to raise $4,000 in the Autism Walk.

  The walk  happened on Saturday at 10:00 a.m., ending at 1:00 p.m.. The main attraction was the trek around the YMCA’s property, but event planners also had booths for food and mini-games orbiting around the center event.

  Some of these booths are set up to educate passerby about autism and the spectrum of characteristics associated with it. Others carry a more general message of healthy eating and healthy decision-making to go with the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, which happens at the same time as the Autism Walk. The two events hold a symbiotic relationship.

  Some booths aim just to collect money for Autism York and Best Buds, the Walk’s two benefactors. The Autism Walk’s planners

Bags of goodies are prepared for the Autism Walk raffle.

hope to gain money with raffles, personal donations, and pledges for the walkers. In the buildup for the fundraiser, they collected money from drives like Jeans Day, where teachers at SMS and SHS came into school with jeans on (and paid $5.00 to do so).

  The term “autism” covers a wide field of characteristics, and no sole person with autism has them all. Learning support teacher Chrissie Bosley tries to outline the broad disorder.

  “It’s very different for each … individual who’s diagnosed with it,” said Bosley. “In most basic terms, it deals with their socialization and with a lot of their sensory input…. It could [also] interfere with the way they process information, the way they perceive… certain scents might be different, certain textures might feel different. … Certain characteristics are shared, like the socialization piece… difficulty communicating, reading, [and] social cues.”

  Information like that is far from common knowledge, which is another reason the Autism Walk is going on — to teach people about autism.

   Karen Somerville, an Autistic Support teacher at Southern Middle school who was instrumental in starting the Autism Walk, knows first hand how the Walk is also about reeling members of Best Buds into their society.

  “This year,” says Somerville, “we’re pulling in the community. We have the Shrewsbury YMCA helping us out…. It’ll be a great match because we, Best Buds, really try to take the students in our club and really help them be a part of our school, so now we’re helping them to be a part of their community.”

  But at its heart, the Autism Walk is a fundraiser, and it’s looking for funds. Best Buds needs money to cover its activities. Without events like the Autism Walk, the members would have to pay for everything themselves.

  Autism York also needs money to keep up its own function as “a really great place for parents who just need someone to listen to them or just need help… [or]  some research,” according to Somerville.

 The Autism Walk, thousands of paces by dozens of people across a course, is just one step in millions towards helping those with autism.