Autism can seem like a far-away idea. Something that happens to other people’s children. But, with 1 in 88 children in Canada diagnosed with Autism, suddenly “other” becomes “cousin”, “daughter”, “neighbour”, “friend”.
You know I’ve been motivated to launch a series of campaigns and programs to address the issues with the current medical and governmental lacks in the world of Autism (ASD) and Neurological Disorders.
When I heard about the Aviva Community Foundation’s contest, I had to submit a project. Winning means I can launch initiatives with speed and efficiency! Here’s the entry. Please, have a look and VOTE. Link below.
Approximately 30,000 pre-school aged children in Canada have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). That’s more than the prevalence rates of pediatric diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Down syndrome COMBINED.
The inspiration for The Warrior Project comes from a problem with two parts:
The First: The wait lists for diagnosing Autism currently run between 12-24 months, a terribly debilitating period of time given early diagnosis and intervention is key with Neurological Disorders. When discovered early (as young as 18 months of age, though most commonly between age 2-3), the opportunities for children with ASD to improve are exponentially higher, seeing children move towards the higher functioning end of the spectrum. Private assessments cost between $2,200-$3,000 making them prohibitive for many families across Canada. But what this means is that for parents who aren’t able to cover the cost of a private assessment, their child’s best chance to advance (between age 2 and 5) is shrunk by the wait lists.
This introduces Part 2 of the problem: In Quebec and Ontario, a diagnosis means children are now eligible to wait for services, not actually receive them. Wait times are between ONE to TWO years, and – horrifically – sometimes longer.
What does this mean? That a child who is 2 1/2 yrs old when their parent suspects there may be something wrong, will be older than the window for Early Intervention, and in Quebec, too old to receive public services which only support families until the child is 6 years old. They will have missed the window in which the brain is most plastic and able to develop, and they will have missed the short period of time allotted to receiving government funded services.
Okay, so why not pay for the assessment and the services privately?
Great question. Happen to have $40,000-$120,000 in pocket change? Perhaps in the couch cushions? This is the cost EACH YEAR parents pay for the programs to give children a chance to uncover their potential, gain connection, and cultivate life skills that will allow them to lead a full-filling life.
Our Solution: The Warrior Project. A three-part action plan to raise awareness, slash wait times and fund families.
Cast your vote, here: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf19113
Winning funds will launch:
A) Nation-wide Advocacy and Awareness campaigns run in public schools and private institutions and will develop into conferences. Called “Sparx”, these events address bullying, fund-raise and give a voice to children with differences in integrated classrooms. Each year, the program theme changes and gives students an opportunity to use creative/artistic skills to showcase how their voice is as unique as that of a child with Neurological disorders.
The events facilitate life-changing awareness that can break cycles of depression, anxiety and marginality, and positively impact esteem. For siblings of children with disorders, the events foster a sense of community acceptance. For the child with Autism, their voice gets a positive platform, and for those who think they are untouched by Autism it is an opportunity to see that their classmates aren’t odd, or scary, or distant.
Supported by high school student volunteers, the events showcase how connected we are to each other, and how important it is that communities act to advance the well-being of all our members. The project encourages the development of socially minded personal initiative, and leverages positive peer role-modeling.
B) Assessment-a-Thon events across Eastern Canada bring professionals to children in an unprecedented move towards early diagnosis and intervention, this part of the project targets the outrageous wait times for a diagnosis. Partnering with leading doctors, therapists, and professionals and using professionally designed, best-in-class protocols, we will deploy a series of assessment caravans and venues to reduce the number of children on public wait-lists to eliminate socio-economic disparity for hundreds, if not thousands of children and youth.
[Like what you’re reading? Please contribute your vote, http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf19113%5D
Community Impact: Existing foundations and charities in this area fund important research. They do that well. We do this well, we work from our strengths and we want to give children with Neurological Disorders a chance to do the same. Early Intervention increases the chance for kids to become contributing, fulfilled members of our communities. Fundraising provides much needed support to parents and raises the character and caliber of communities across our great country.
Sustainability: Each event, each campaign is run as an independent project, allowing us to fulfill our goals of advocacy, detection, and funding without long-running projects. Our approach gives us flexibility and relevancy each and every time we act. With your help, your funds, we can widen the window for hundreds of children; broaden the minds of thousands, and help them find the warriors within.
The Warrior Project was created by the Red Boot Warrior. A young mom of three daughters, the youngest of whom is 2.5 and on the spectrum, who found a warrior within and a muse to channel her expertise.
Thank you for considering our idea; your support allows us to launch this initiative with speed and efficiency. Please vote for The Warrior Project today.
HOW TO VOTE: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf19113