The Autism Ontario York Region hosted their first fun festival this weekend. The community was brought together by their shared interest in summer camps that are specialized for children with Autism.
The fun festival included a wide range of activities such as live entertainment, face painting, and games. Planned seven weeks in advance, the event was completely put together by the parents of autistic children in the community. Susanne Bagnarol, event organizer and parent volunteer, said that there has been positive feedback and she also thinks that next year’s event will be even more successful.
At the fun festival, parents were able to network with others going through similar struggles. It was also a way for the community to learn about Autism Ontario, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those in their area with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Although the event was primarily created to raise money for a trip to a special summer camp, Bagnarol said that the event was also a safe place for autistic children and their families to enjoy a day of activities.
As the rates of Autism rise, these camps are becoming increasingly needed. There are four different camps that participate in The Autism Ontario York Region’s program. Two of them offer emphasis on one-on-one interaction, with an assigned counselor for each camper. The other two camps are specially designed for children with Asperger Syndrome. At these camps, kids can find life skill classes that train them for adulthood, on topics such as developing their future occupation. The classes cover topics like working, volunteering, and continuing education. There are also other classes like cooking.
Bagnarol’s son, who is autistic and non-verbal, has attended one of the summer camps for the past seven years. She says that he has benefited greatly and wants other children to be able to have the same experiences.
Written by Sejal Sheth