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:

Barb Snelgrove and Charmaine Crooks! 2 fantastic heroes with heART! Meet them and paint on their portraits June 23rd!

  Barb Snelgrove

A long time fixture in Vancouver’s LGTB community, Barb Snelgrove has been a Board member  or volunteered for various charitable organizations such as the Vancouver Pride Society, Qmunity & the DMS. She currently sits on the Vancouver City Hall LGTBQ Advisory Committee (Chair of the Sub-committee on Creative Capital) sits on the Vancouver Police Dept. Diversity Advisory Committee and is a member of the Positive Living BC Red Ribbon Advisory Panel and The Diversity Project Advisory Committee.  Barb is the Communications Director for the 2011 Vancouver Outgames and writes a monthly column for LOV Magazine, one of Vancouver’s LGTB publications.  Barb was awarded the 2008 VPS Outstanding Community Member award, the 2010 Citizen of the Year Award from the Rhinestone Charitable Foundation & was the 2010 Vancouver Pride Parade Grand Marshal – Local Hero.  Better known as “megamouthmedia” you know her as the MC of many well known community events such as The Pride Festival stage, Numbers IDOL, Diorama, The annual Gathering Place block party and The Feud. 

What an experiment this portrait night will be!  heroes with heART such as Barb and Charmaine will be in attendance!

 The centre of the workshop room will be filled with art supplies, and all the participants  will interact with the subjects who are in attendance and paint on the unfinished pieces (which are 40″ x 60″) as a big group art session. It’s an experiment. How people finish the pieces is unknown! It’s about letting go and sharing. Finishing with colors, painting on clothes, throwing on glitter, writing words, conversing!

***UPDATE! We’ve decided to auction off the 40″ x 60″ interactive portraits THE NIGHT of heroes with heART: Katarina Thorsen’s Interactive Portrait Event! Proceeds from these pieces go to Vancouver Friends For Life! About 5 of my smaller portraits will also be auctioned off during the evening, with part of proceeds benefiting Intersections Media as well as Kat’s youth at-risk art therapy program!

Charmaine Crooks

 Charmaine is a five-time Olympian and Olympic Silver Medalist (LA ’84, 4X400m Relay) who represented Canada for close to 20 years in Athletics.  Charmaine is president and founder of NGU Consulting, a sports marketing, management and corporate consulting company, which provides strategic counsel and growth strategies to major corporations on a national and global basis.  BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE!

To find out more about Charmaine, watch this fabulous video:

The first portrait...
My first portrait of Charmaine is a little too serious! So I added glamour and her spectacular smile for the second one! Both will be available to paint on!

For MORE INFO click on: