Hopebridge Sponsors Local Autism Speaks Community Walks
November 28, 2022
November 28, 2022
Bubbles, ballerinas, and DJs, oh my! From the moment you walk into an Autism Speaks walk, you can feel the love in the air. The support and advocacy for the autism community is infectious and the matching team t-shirts, shaking blue pompoms and cheerful high-five tunnels are further proof. This is why our Hopebridge Heroes look forward to participating in these walks every year.
Autism Speaks is a national nonprofit organization that advocates for the autism community by funding research, increasing global understanding and acceptance
, and extending access to screening and services to communities in need. Every year Autism Speaks hosts the largest national autism fundraising events through its walks. These walks bring communities together to celebrate love, understanding and acceptance. Anyone is welcome to attend but many participants have autism themselves, or are caregivers, friends, family members , or local providers in the community.
Hopebridge partners with Autism Speaks to sponsor these annual walks in our local communities. The Hopebridge team rallies around one common mission: extending access to autism care and services for any child or family in need. This year, Hopebridge Heroes attended 12 walks across eight states. They celebrated neurodiversity and shared resources with families.
We spoke with Lexi Weber, center manager of the Hopebridge autism therapy center in St. Petersburg, FL to learn more about her experience at their local Autism Speaks walk.
As “Halloweekend” approached, Lexi and her counterpart, Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Felicity Ackley-Burnett, began preparing for their local Autism Speaks walk the morning of Oct. 31. They hung flyers in their center lobby, shared information with families, ordered fun sensory-friendly toys, printed informational materials and created fun games for participants to play. Although it was an early morning for the pair, Lexi said arriving at the walk was seamless and the Autism Speaks team made their table set-up easy and fun. They started the day with delicious donuts and mingled with the kiddos and families participating. Lexi and Felicity met so many new faces from their local autism community and even noticed that some people traveled across their state just to attend the walk.
This Autism Speaks walk was held in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL and Lexi says it was a great venue that was conducive to any sensory sensitivities that attendants may have. Throughout the field, there were ballerinas, bubble machines and people dressed in fun costumes to celebrate the spooky season. There were rows of tents with autism resource providers there to share helpful information and play with sensory-friendly toys and games. Lexi says that every detail was tailored for individuals with autism to attend and enjoy themselves. Instead of loud clapping after announcements, the Autism Speaks team provided blue pompoms to shake.
The diversity and representation from the Autism Speaks staff and vendors is what stuck out to Lexi the most. Many of the staff members were self-advocates with autism, and the DJ at the event was also on the spectrum. Lexi loved that children with autism could come to an event like this and not only have their sensory needs catered to, but also see representation in such a supportive space.
In addition to all the little details making this walk so much fun for so many, Lexi says it is also a very customizable experience. Whether you have a team or are there by yourself, you can participate in every activity. You can also walk as much or as little as you are able. Participants are free to mingle with providers, walk one lap or walk the entire time.
At the Hopebridge table, Lexi and Felicity enjoyed their time sharing the impactful resources that Hopebridge offers. Many families were interested in learning more about our unique Hopebridge 360 services. Lexi and Felicity shared information, played games, took fun photos
, and learned more about their local autism community.
Lexi was so impressed with all of the support that the community poured into this event. She described it as a “big community hangout.”
While the 2022 Autism Speaks walks that Hopebridge sponsors have come to an end, the advocacy and support that our teams experience at these events will stick with them forever. We are already counting down the days until the next walk season! If you are seeking autism therapy services for your child, or looking to join the Hopebridge team, please visit our website to learn more!
Blog content courtesy of Kaitlynn Coffman.
*Informed consent was obtained from the participants in this article. This information should not be captured and reused without express permission from Hopebridge, LLC.