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14th annual Autism Walk hopes to connect community, provide resources

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Courtesy Autism Society of Southern Arizona | The Daily Wildcat The Autism Society of Southern Arizona has host an Autism Walk and resource Fair for 12 years now and will host its 13th on April 6.

The Autism Society of Southern Arizona will host the 14th Annual Autism Walk and Resource Fair on Saturday, April 4, 2020 at Kino Sports Complex. 

Organizers made the event different and fun for those who attend each year, and parents and children can expect new activities to excite and stimulate attendees. 

Brie Seward is the executive director of the society and is also a marketing committee member. Each year she plans to make the event exciting for children while also providing plenty of resources to parents.

“The walk is a family fun experience,” Seward said. “The goal of our walk is to get parents the resources they need for their children.”

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According to Seward, the resource fair at the walk is the main event. The society plans on hosting 75 community resources that offer services or support for autism.

“Our goal is to get parents information they need for treatment options and to improve outcomes, but we also want to make it exciting and fun for the children as well,” Seward said.

The event will include a “Zen Zone,” a sensory-friendly and calming area to help children who are overly stimulated at the event.

“It’s a really nice area for them to relax and unwind if it’s too loud for them,” Seward said.

The event will also feature sensory stations, solar telescopes and a variety of food trucks so that attendees can have a wide selection of meal options, according to Seward. The Center for Neurosciences is also bringing a “Brain Bus” to educate people on the brain’s operations in a hands-on way.

RELATED: Upcoming Autism Walk and Resource Fair provides place to get active and get information

Lauren Renken is a University of Arizona student currently studying to receive her Doctorate of Audiology. She has helped plan the walk with the rest of the committee and is excited to see the pay off.

“It’s been great as a student,” Renken said. “It’s one of those things where I can volunteer in between a busy schedule of classes and clinic, and everybody’s so understanding of time and scheduling.”

Part of planning for the walk included booking many familiar faces that children will be excited to see. 

“This year we’re having a lot of different Disney and Avengers characters,” Renken said. “We’re having some different STEM areas, some ponies, face painters and a jump castle.”

The Tucson Sugar Skulls indoor football team will be leading the 1.3-mile walk this year, and the UA Pomline will cheer on people at the finish line. 

Ray Frieders is the board president of the society and event chair of the walk. Like other organizers for the event, his goal is to make it better and easier for people to attend each year.

“Our big goal is to connect to the community and we’re blessed to have so many community partners," Frieders said, "whether it’s our sponsors who help support this event each year or our media partners like the Daily Wildcat who help spread the news about the event."

The important takeaway from the walk, according to Frieders, is to bring awareness to those with autism and provide many the resources they need. 

“The end result is to let parents know about all the resources that are available here in the community,” Frieders said. “The Autism Society of Southern Arizona is that place you call to help navigate what’s going on in your world.”

The inclusive event will provide residents of Tucson a time to learn more and raise awareness of their child’s special needs while having fun with family and friends. 

“At the core in my heart is we’re doing a service for parents and really getting them in connection with options for their child so they can have better outcomes in their lives,” Seward said. 

For those who wish to register to attend the event or donate gifts to the Autism Society of Southern Arizona, visit their website.


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