Celebrating #WorldAutismAwarenessDay with @canucksautism’s Family Festival 2012! #Vancouver

It was a beautiful day to raise awareness for Canucks Autism Network and World Autism Awareness Day by gathering at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver BC and walking through the city streets, ending with impassioned speeches and unveiling of the Autism Awareness Van.

I was moved to tears as I listened to Paolo Aquilini pleading that we MUST provide those with autism with the same opportunities and freedom that everyone deserves.  I look on my own experience raising a child on the Autism Spectrum and I am astounded how little support we had then and how much support can be found now.

Autism creates many challenges for the individual and the family.  What I find most difficult is the profound loneliness that can occur.  But there is hope.  To see my child, now as an adult, living a full life with great friends and opportunities is the greatest feeling.  So today, for me, was a day of personal celebration.

Some highlights from today:

Signing in
Anders Thorsen, Charmaine Crooks
Anders Thorsen, Tasha King, Charmaine Crooks, Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid (MLA), Clara Aquilini
Diane Clement, Jennifer Clement and Max!
Warm-up
Charmaine Crooks and Senator Larry Campbell rally the crowd and lead the walk
Fin, the Canucks Mascot, directs traffic
Doug and Diane Clement pose with John and Connie Baechler and their daughters and CAN Board Member, Charmaine Crooks

Photo of the day!
Anders Thorsen, Charmaine Crooks, Paolo Aquilini, Diane Clement

The CAN Story:

In 1996 Paolo and Clara Aquilini listened in shock and disbelief as medical professionals diagnosed their son with autism.

In the following years Paolo and Clara experienced the trials and triumphs that come with raising a child with autism. They also began to live with the frustration of watching their beloved child struggle to participate in “normal” activities and at times be told that he was simply unable to do so. Autism deeply affects not only the individual who is diagnosed, but also their families. As the rate of occurrence of autism continues to climb and existing programs become increasingly overwhelmed, Paolo and Clara’s hearts and prayers continually go out to other families facing the same turmoil and challenges.

Compelled by the growing need in the community and driven by their own personal experience, Paolo and Clara constantly searched for ways to support families living with autism. It is their profound desire to enhance the quality of life for families living with autism in BC. This vision is the founding inspiration for the Canucks Autism Network and guides the organization in its mission to provide high quality recreational, sports, social and vocational development programs for individuals and families living with autism and to build capacity through community networks across British Columbia. [source]

See also:

Canucks Autism Network MEDIA KIT

My personal autism literature library:

Be sure to check out:

2 comments

  • I was searching for fellow bloggers who wrote about this event and came across yours! It gave me goosebumps to read that your son is happy and just as importantly, accepted. My son is only 10 years old and while we were are always told we should take each day by day, I can’t help but wonder what the future will bring. Anyways, just thought I’d let ya know. Thank you! 🙂

    • I’m so glad you found the words reassuring. My son is now 24 and it continues to be an incredible journey. Only those like you truly understand what it takes. I have been accused of coddling, over-attentiveness etc. but giving my son the time he has needed to develop in his own time was key. He his now working, in two bands, headed to NY (arranged it on his own), has extraordinary friends. Mind-boggling. Let’s talk more! 🙂 Take care and all the best!

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