This week marks a very important milestone for Autism Empowerment and the Autism and Scouting history. Autism Empowerment has its 1 Year anniversary on June 3rd and we marked the week by hosting a Recreation and Summer Activity Panel, which included sensory friendly scouting.
This past year has been an amazing ride for Autism Empowerment and the Autism and Scouting Program. I wanted to take a little time and provide you some highlights of the Autism and Scouting program which was one of the first programs that Autism Empowerment brought under the wing of the newly formed publicly supported non-profit.
1) We produced training materials that can be used both in the context of the Boy Scout, Girl Scouts or can be easily modified to other types of scouting programs. This training has been used with multiple units around the United States. Training is an ongoing process and are we look forward to adding more training materials regularly. We also welcome training material ideas.
2) Provided training and support to over 300 Boy Scout of America leaders at the Cascade Pacific Council at the 2011 Program and Training Conference. This training was so well received that the training will be expanded at the 2012 Conference.
3) In late December 2011, Autism and Scouting helped found and fund the first Sensory Friendly Cub Scout pack in the Pacific Northwest. The group started with 6 scouts and will soon be at 28 once our incoming Tigers finish up their school year.
Autism and Scouting seeks to put together an outline of our start-up program to provide others an avenue to duplicate the group.
4) Autism and Scouting has produced many visual training aids for the group that are now used around the nation and the world.
5) We helped support the Great Race to Autism Awareness in Three Fires Council, Foxfire District by providing training. Several hundred leaders, parents and scouts attended the Scout-o-Rama where the Great Race to Autism Awareness was held. Sean Williams did an amazing job running this event and we are proud of all of the work that he is doing in within his District and Council.
6) We were able to expand the Autism and Scouting Facebook group from 99 to now a year later to 615. We were at 10 nations and ended the first year reaching scout leaders, parents and scouters in over 30 nations supporting Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts groups around the world, American Heritage Girls, Royal Rangers, Impact Girls and more. http://www.facebook.com/autismandscouting
7) Other multi media channels were launched and expanded. Twitter has over 300 followers (a year ago we had a dozen), now on Google+ with 130 followers and expanded to other social media such as Pinterest and others.
8) Autism and Scouting has also been able to connect parents with scouts on the autism spectrum with units that have leaders that have better understanding of the needs of scouts who are on the autism spectrum. We are hoping to provide a national database and Unit Locator Program once funding and sponsorship is obtained.
9) Through the Autism and Scouting blog, we were able to start conversations that opened up topics that prior were rarely talked about in public and were intended to provoke thought, show different perspectives and start a conversation for the betterment of all. This blog is, has and always will try to do its very best to provide a fresh look at a topic and will always come from a place of grace. At times our writing may ruffle a few feathers, however we never have an intent to disrespect, just to start a conversation that is meant to build up and not tear down. We believe that taking the time to speak out and keep conversations alive with a variety of viewpoints will help strengthen scouting programs.
It is amazing what has been done just in the past year but there is so much more work ahead and bigger plans to expand the Autism and Scouting program. In order to do this, we are seeking financial and moral support from blog readers, scouting enthusiasts, organizations which support scouting and the scouting organizations themselves.
Any help goes a long way in producing more materials, more training, expanded programs and finding more partners. Great things are happening at Autism Empowerment and within the Autism and Scouting program.
In the coming months, we are looking to produce an Advanced Training Leadership Kit, expand our multimedia program to include Autism Empowerment Radio and Autism and Scouting Radio and produce more visual aids. We are also seeking to create a national database of units that are autism and/or special needs friendly.
We plan on doing much more blogging in the near future and we are going to have some guest bloggers come in and blog about different topics. If you would like to do a guest blog, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your idea. We would really love to get some other perspective from overseas and different girl scouting units.
If you or your group would like to fundraise donate to our Autism and Scouting program, we greatly appreciate your help. Our goal for 2012 is to raise $100,000 and we appreciate your assistance in closing our funding gap. Please make your check or money order payable to “Autism Empowerment” and mail payment to:
P.O. Box 871676
Vancouver, WA 98687
Please note if you’d like the funds designated specifically to the “Autism and Scouting” program.
We also accept payment online through our website.