Walk Now For Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks Canada is the Canadian counterpart for the American organization Autism Speaks. Together they form North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. They are dedicated to finding funding that will provide resources for research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
The money that is raised through events such as Walk Now for Autism Speaks supports Canadian autism research as well as being able to issue community grants to agencies across Canada that work directly with children, youth and adults with autism.
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the world, and with the prevalence numbers on the rise, it is more important than ever to raise awareness and funds which will directly impact the Canadian autism community.
I got to speak with them about the Toronto walk, which is happening this Sunday, June 17th, 2012 at Nathan Phillips Square, and the organization.
How does the Walk Now for Autism program work?
Walk Now for Autism Speaks is Autism Speaks Canada’s signature fundraising event. Taking place in six locations across the country this year, our Walk events bring together families, friends, co-workers, service providers and schools to raise funds for autism research and family services programs. The Walk also helps to raise awareness about the disorder that is now being diagnosed in 1 out of every 88 children. Individuals register online at www.walknowforautismspeaks.ca. They can either walk as an individual or as a team. After signing up to participate in a walk, individuals then take part in fundraising for the Walk. Some people request online pledges while others host events such as bowling parties, auctions and garage sales to raise money. Many corporations take part in our Walks as well, and will engage their staff by having theme days in the office to support the Walk.
How long has it been running?
The first Walk took place in Canada in 2005 in Toronto. Year after year, the Walks have gotten bigger and bigger, and more and more cities have been added to the Walk roster, with Waterloo-Wellington being the latest addition.
What cities are involved?
This year, we have Walk Now for Autism Speaks events in six cities across Canada. Our spring Walk season kicks off in Montreal on May 27, followed by London on June 10, Toronto on June 17, and Waterloo-Wellington on June 24. Our fall walk season will take place out west beginning with Edmonton on September 9 and wrapping up with Vancouver on September 30. Information on each of our walks can be accessed by visiting www.walknowforautismspeaks.ca
How much funds are raised each year?
In 2011, the Walk Now for Autism Speaks events raised a total of $1.3 million towards Canadian family services and research.
What are all the ways people can get involved?
People can get involved in a variety of ways. The number one way to get involved is to sign up and become a walker. You can also participate by offering your support to one of the walkers taking place in one of our Walk events. Like any event, we also are in need of an army of volunteers. Individuals can register online to help out at the walk.
What can one expect from the day of events?
Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are a great opportunity for people to bring their family and friends to share in a day that has an important message entwined into a fun event that will transform the Walk site into a playground of activity, music and refreshments that participants young and old can enjoy. For example, our Toronto Walk will have more than 7500 walkers this year that will gather at Nathan Phillips Square to enjoy bouncy castles, bubble stations, crafts and face painting, mascots, music and refreshments. After a short opening ceremony, walkers will take off on a 3 km walk, and then wrap up the morning with a celebration of success at our closing ceremony. Also at the event, we will have a resource fair set up for Walkers to learn more about the services, programs and products available in their Walk area that are specifically targeted to the autism community. Our walks are unique for families with loved ones on the autism spectrum. It’s an environment where the autism community can come together as one strong voice to raise awareness and offer support to each other.